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Great places to botanize

In the northeast tier of the flora area

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Blackbird State Forest

New Castle County, Delaware, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Bill McAvoy, Delaware Natural Heritage Botanist

The botanical highlight of Blackbird State Forest is the great number of seasonally flooded depression wetlands that can be found throughout the ten tracks that comprise the State Forest. Known as Delmarva Bays, these unique wetlands support several state-rare species that can be found when the depressions are flooded in the spring, and when they are dry in late summer. Many of these depressions are accessible from multi-use trails that will take you through various forest types with a diverse assemblage of understory species.

Delaware Department of Agriculture, Delaware Forest Service; 10 tracks totaling 2429 ha (6000 acres)

© William McAvoy

Cape Henlopen State Park

Sussex County, Delaware, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Bill McAvoy, Delaware Natural Heritage Botanist

Cape Henlopen State Park occurs at the mouth of the Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean, where several coastal habitat types can be explored. On the eastern side of the Park, there are over 6 miles of beach, dune grasslands, and interdune shrub and wetland communities. The Park interior supports maritime pine forests and along the western edge, there are 100’s of acres of tidal salt marsh. Floristically, the area is quite diverse where many state-rare plants can be found.

Delaware Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks & Recreation; 2102 ha (5193 acres)

© William McAvoy

Nanticoke River Wildlife Management Area (WMA)

Sussex County, Delaware, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Bill McAvoy, Delaware Natural Heritage Botanist

The Nanticoke River WMA contains an interesting variety of habitat types and natural communities, such as freshwater tidal marshes and Atlantic white cedar swamps. One of the more interesting habitat types is the paleo sand dunes, or ridges. These dunes, which were formed many tens-of-thousands of years ago, are sparsely forested and support an understory flora well adapted to xeric, sandy conditions. Species in the Bean Family (Fabaceae) are well represented, as well as many species of grasses and sedges. You can find several good examples of this habitat type on the east side of the Nanticoke River within WMA boundaries.

Delaware Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fish & Wildlife; 1825 ha (4510 acres)

© William McAvoy

Trap Pond State Park

Sussex County, Delaware, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Bill McAvoy, Delaware Natural Heritage Botanist

A highlight of Trap Pond State Park are the bald cypress swamps that occur along the James Branch, a creek that flows through the park, west from the town of Laurel. Bald-cypress (Taxodium distichum) is a tree that reaches its northern limit of natural distribution in Delaware. Being at the northern limit of its range in the state, the species does not reach the massive size that it does farther south, but full stands can be found with the characteristic knees growing from the base of the tree. Additionally, a good diversity of plants can also be found within these forested wetlands.

Delaware Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks & Recreation; 1479 ha (3653 acres)

© William McAvoy

Brandywine Creek State Park

New Castle County, Delaware, Piedmont. Submitted by Bill McAvoy, Delaware Natural Heritage Botanist

The state of Delaware lies primarily within the Coastal Plain, with a small sliver of the Piedmont in northern New Castle County. This area features hilly topography and a flora distinct from the flatlands of the Coastal Plain. Good botanizing is encountered at Brandywine Creek State Park with old-growth forests (Tulip Tree Nature Preserve), floodplains, ground-water seepage wetlands, and steep slopes with rock outcroppings. In addition, Brandywine Creek itself supports a range of submerged aquatic vegetation.

Delaware Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks & Recreation; 378 ha (933 acres)

© William McAvoy

Fort Dupont Park and Pope Branch Park

, District of Columbia, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Elizabeth Matthews, U.S. National Park Service Biologist; Damien Ossi, D.C. Fisheries and Wildlife Division Biologist

Fort Dupont Park (152 hectares) and Pope Branch Park (17 hectares) both feature upland mixed oak/heath forests, with an understory that includes a diversity of heath-family (Ericaceae) shrub species. Mountain laurel can be found in full bloom in the uplands in late spring. Fort Dupont is one of a network of NPS units known as the Civil War defenses of Washington, many of which are home to earthen fortifications and forests that regenerated after the Civil War period. Many of these units are on geographic high points on the landscape; they feature similar bedrock and plant communities and are well worth exploring! Pope Branch Park is a DC-owned stream valley park that is contiguous with Fort Dupont and owned and managed by the District Department of Parks and Recreation. It has similar plant communities including a large stand of Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) under Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea) and Chestnut Oak (Quercus montana). [More here]

National Park Service and District of Columbia; 169 hectares (417 acres) combined

Photo Credit: National Park Service

Kingman and Heritage Islands

, District of Columbia, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Elizabeth Matthews, U.S. National Park Service Biologist; Damien Ossi, D.C. Fisheries and Wildlife Division Biologist

Kingman (15 hectares) and Heritage Islands (3 ha) are dredge-material islands in the Anacostia River, built by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1920s and ‘30s. Kingman Island was used for “victory gardens” during WWII and an amusement park was planned for both islands, but they are now in permanent conservation. The plant communities on the islands are severely impacted by invasive plants, but they do have areas with interesting plant communities. Heritage Island is a tidally flooded forest featuring Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum), Common Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) and Common White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima). Kingman Island is 3-5m in elevation and has a large vegetated vernal pool next to a stand of Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana), large cottonwoods (Populus) and Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra), and emergent wetlands on the landward side of its seawall.

D.C. Department of Energy and Environment; 18 hectares (44 acres) combined

Langdon Park

, District of Columbia, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Elizabeth Matthews, U.S. National Park Service Biologist; Damien Ossi, D.C. Fisheries and Wildlife Division Biologist

Langdon Park is a community park in Northeast DC. Most of the area is developed for recreation, but there are several small 0.5ha forest patches in the park. These are mature oak-hickory forests, but due to their small size they are impacted by invasive vines. The forest patches are undergoing restoration by community members and a new trail leads visitors into the heart of the largest patch. The park occupies a former stream valley of the now piped-in Hickey Run, and several seeps flow on the edges of the park. One forest patch has several large planted Bald-cypress (Taxodium distichum) and a large seepage area. Red-backed salamanders have been found in another seepage area.

D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation; 8 hectares (20 acres)

Theodore Roosevelt Island

, District of Columbia, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Elizabeth Matthews, U.S. National Park Service Biologist; Damien Ossi, D.C. Fisheries and Wildlife Division Biologist

Theodore Roosevelt Island is located in the Potomac River, accessible via a footbridge from George Washington Memorial Parkway, on the Virginia side of the river. The island is home to a variety of mature, natural and semi-natural forest communities. Deciduous, upland forests are prominent on the western half of the island, whereas vegetation on the eastern half of the island includes tidal forests that are accessible by boardwalks. Bald-cypress (Taxodium distichum) is found in the wettest areas, whereas large Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum) dominate the riparian floodplains. A detailed NPS Cultural Landscape Report provides a thorough history of the site, as well as a description of current vegetation: [NPS download]

National Park Service; 37 hectares (92 acres)

Photo credit: National Park Service / Claire Hassler

Rock Creek Park

, District of Columbia, Piedmont. Submitted by Elizabeth Matthews, U.S. National Park Service Biologist; Damien Ossi, D.C. Fisheries and Wildlife Division Biologist

Rock Creek Park features mature forests dominated by tulip poplar, American beech, and a mix of oak species. A variety of upland forest community types are well represented throughout the park, especially north of Military Road, whereas the best examples of riparian communities are found in the northern floodplain of Rock Creek. The northern floodplain is also home to a diverse spring ephemeral flora. American Chestnut (Castanea dentata) resprouts can be found throughout the park, particularly in the upland plant communities, mixed in with heath-family (Ericaceae) shrubs, such as Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia). The park has a well-developed trail system, facilitating exploration of these natural communities. [More here]

National Park Service; >800 hectares (>2000 acres)

Photo credit: National Park Service / Rod Simmons

Fort Massac State Park

Massac County, Illinois (Southern), Coastal Plain. Submitted by Paul J. Marcum, Illinois Natural History Museum Botanist; Christopher Benda, Southern Illinois Plants of Concern Coordinator/Botanist

Found along the Ohio River in far southeastern Illinois, Illinois’ first state park has a long and rich cultural and natural history. Certainly, Native Americans utilized the strategic vantage point along the Ohio River and later early Europeans (both French and British) in North America built and occupied forts first built at this location in 1757. Legend even says that Spanish explorer, Hernando De Soto reached this area in 1542 and built an even earlier fort along the banks of the Ohio River. Present day, the site is home to the Fort Massac historical site, recreational opportunities (camping, hiking, etc.), and natural areas, including Massac Forest State Nature Preserve. Much of the area is forested with floodplain forest and terrace communities. Several Illinois listed plant species are found here, many of them at or near the north edge of their range and more commonly encountered in states southeast of Illinois.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources; 587 ha (1,450 acres)

© Paul Marcum

Mermet Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area

Massac County, Illinois (Southern), Coastal Plain. Submitted by Paul J. Marcum, Illinois Natural History Museum Botanist; Christopher Benda, Southern Illinois Plants of Concern Coordinator/Botanist

Mermet Lake, in far southeastern Illinois, is best known as one of the state’s most outstanding waterfowl hunting areas or, perhaps as the site for the Illinois Pro/Am National Archery Tournament. It is much more! The site has tremendous biodiversity and is one of the best botanical sites in southern Illinois. Two high quality natural areas are found within the Fish and Wildlife Area. First, the 43-acre Mermet Swamp Nature Preserve is located at the southeast corner of the site. This preserve is home to bottomland swamp dominated by Bald-cypress (Taxodium distichum), an uncommon plant community this far north. The second natural area is Mermet Flatwoods Land and Water Reserve, a 105-acre site located northwest of the lake. This flatwoods site is a very diverse and unique Southern Flatwoods community. It ranges from very wet areas with abundant sedges and irises to dry areas with an unusual assemblage of prairie, dry forest, and blufftop species.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources; 1,064 ha (2,630 acres)

© Paul Marcum

Section 8 Woods Nature Preserve

Pulaski County, Illinois (Southern), Coastal Plain. Submitted by Paul J. Marcum, Illinois Natural History Museum Botanist; Christopher Benda, Southern Illinois Plants of Concern Coordinator/Botanist

Only a very small portion of this site is easily accessible but the convenient location right along IL 37 make it a must stop. A short boardwalk leads visitors into a Bald-cypress/Tupelo swamp community with scattered individuals of Planer-tree (Planera aquatica), Water Locusts (Gleditsea aquatica), Virginia-willow (Itea virginica), Swamp Forestiera (Forestiera acuminata), and more. This community type is representative of Illinois’ Coastal Plain Natural Division and found here at the north edge of its existence. Section 8 Woods is home to numerous state listed plant and animal species and is a haven for plants, amphibians, and birds alike.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 132 ha (327 acres)

© Chris Brenda

Ferne Clyffe State Park

Johnson County, Illinois (Southern), Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Paul J. Marcum, Illinois Natural History Museum Botanist; Christopher Benda, Southern Illinois Plants of Concern Coordinator/Botanist

A vast array of trails can be found at Ferne Clyffe State Park. Hike the Rebman Trail, named after Emma Rebman, who sold the park to the state in 1949. Because of her care, and those of the indigenous cultures that preceded her, the park and its flora have been preserved. The Small-flowered Rock-pink (Phemeranthus parviflorus) is a common plant along the sandstone outcrops and each flower only blooms for about an hour on a single day. Visit in the late afternoon to catch them in bloom and you might even spot a six-lined racerunner (Aspidoscelis sexlineata) racing around on the rocks. Check out the splendid hike around the periphery of Round Bluff Nature Preserve, where one can see plants like Common Eastern Prickly-pear (Opuntia caespitosa) that thrive in hot and arid environments on the south side of the bluff and plants like Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum) that inhabit the cool, moist, shaded north side of the bluff. A campground and fishing lake are on-site as well.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources; 983 ha (2,430 acres)

© Chris Brenda

Fults Hill Prairie Nature Preserve

Monroe County, Illinois (Southern), Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Paul J. Marcum, Illinois Natural History Museum Botanist; Christopher Benda, Southern Illinois Plants of Concern Coordinator/Botanist

Fults Hill Prairie Nature Preserve protects a series of high-quality loess hill prairies and limestone glades in southwest Illinois. Purchased in 1970 for its rich biodiversity, this site is one of the first nature preserves to be dedicated by the state and contains 11 state listed plant species as well as several rare animals including Illinois’ only species of scorpion. The prairie communities can be easily viewed by climbing a wooden staircase up the hill and by a loop trail that winds through woodlands to another hill prairie and limestone glade on the descent to the parking lot. Other high-quality nature preserves occur along the bluff corridor, as well as the adjacent Kidd Lake Marsh, which contains wetland habitat for rare birds and makes for interesting botanizing, in contrast to the hill prairies.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources; 215 ha (532 acres)

© Chris Brenda

Giant City State Park

Jackson and Union County, Illinois (Southern), Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Paul J. Marcum, Illinois Natural History Museum Botanist; Christopher Benda, Southern Illinois Plants of Concern Coordinator/Botanist

The sheer sandstone walls resembling skyscrapers along the Nature Trail within Giant City State Park are what give the park its name. The park occurs near the southern terminus of the glaciers that once covered that state. Over 800 vascular plant species have been documented within the park and it is the type locality for Forbes’s Saxifrage (Micranthes forbesii). Hike the Trillium Trail with Fern Rocks Nature Preserve to see a rich display of spring ephemeral wildflowers. Ferns and the cliff dwelling plant Missouri Alumroot (Heuchera missouriense) abound on the sandstone rock and boulders. Be sure to stop by the lodge, built entirely by hand by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s, for their famous fried chicken dinner served family style.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources; 1,618 ha (4,000 acres)

© Chris Brenda

Heron Pond Little Black Slough Nature Preserve

Johnson County, Illinois (Southern), Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Paul J. Marcum, Illinois Natural History Museum Botanist; Christopher Benda, Southern Illinois Plants of Concern Coordinator/Botanist

This is one of the largest nature preserve sites in Illinois at just over 2,000 acres and it is further buffered by more than 11,000 acres set aside as the Cache River Land and Water Reserve. Within the state nature preserve extensive stands of high-quality upland forest, limestone glade, swamp, and floodplain forest are protected. More than 15 state-listed species have been observed here. The swamps are dominated by Water Tupelo (Nyssa aquatica) and Bald-cypress (Taxodium distichum), found here near the north edge of their range. A floating boardwalk allows access into the interior of one section of swamp. From the boardwalk vegetation and animals living on the buttressed bases of swamp trees are easily visible.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources; 811 ha (2,004 acres)

© Paul Marcum

Piney Creek Ravine Nature Preserve

Randolph County, Illinois (Southern), Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Paul J. Marcum, Illinois Natural History Museum Botanist; Christopher Benda, Southern Illinois Plants of Concern Coordinator/Botanist

Within the Illinois Ozarks Natural Division, Piney Creek Ravine Nature Preserve protects rare plant communities and archeological features. Native American rock art can be easily viewed here and it is one of only two sites in southern Illinois with naturally occurring stands of native Shortleaf Pine (Pinus echinata). This sandstone canyon has a rich botanical history. Esteemed botanist and Southern Illinois University professor emeritus Dr. Robert Mohlenbrock documented two species occurring here as new to the state in the 1950s: Harvey’s buttercup (Ranunculus harveyi) and Bradley’s Spleenwort (Asplenium bradleyi). Hike the loop trail to see high quality examples of oak woodland and sandstone cliff natural communities.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources; 80 ha (198 acres)

© Chris Brenda

Shawnee National Forest, LaRue-Pine Hills-Otter Pond Research Natural Area

Union County, Illinois (Southern), Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Paul J. Marcum, Illinois Natural History Museum Botanist; Christopher Benda, Southern Illinois Plants of Concern Coordinator/Botanist

Larue-Pine Hills-Otter Pond Research Natural Area is a place of tremendous biological diversity. The natural diversity is a direct result of the site's unique topography with towering limestone bluffs 300 feet-tall looming over the adjacent Mississippi River floodplain and spring-fed wetlands below. Remarkably, 14 natural communities, including various woodland, prairie, cliff, and swamp communities, are present and home to over 1/3 of Illinois’ known plant taxa. 1,153 in total! The diversity of animal groups is also noteworthy with high percentages of Illinois’ birds, reptiles, and amphibians. “Snake Road”, the road between the swamp and cliff communities is a great place to observe Illinois nature. This road is closed seasonally for annual snake migration between the swamps and hibernacula sites along the cliffs.

U.S. Forest Service; 1,138 ha (2,811 acres)

© Paul Marcum

Shawnee National Forest, Panther Den Wilderness Area

Union County , Illinois (Southern), Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Paul J. Marcum, Illinois Natural History Museum Botanist; Christopher Benda, Southern Illinois Plants of Concern Coordinator/Botanist

At the southern end of Devil’s Kitchen Lake is the Panther Den Wilderness Area. This is one of seven wilderness areas within the Shawnee National Forest of southern Illinois. Park at the end of Panther Den Road in a small lot and hike the trails to the “den” area, which contains a maze of passageways through sheer sandstone walls. An abundance of French’s Shooting-star (Primula frenchii) occurs here, a species that grows along the drip line of cliffs and under sandstone overhangs in the Greater Shawnee Hills Natural Division, discovered by Dr. George Hazen French, the first botany professor at Southern Illinois University. Rare Asplenium ferns have been recorded at this site, and some of the sandstone walls display large populations of Walking Fern (Asplenium rhizophyllum). The hike to the site also follows a portion of the River to River Trail, a multiuse trail that spans 160 miles from Elizabethtown on the Ohio River to Grand Tower on the Mississippi River.

U.S. Forest Service; 483 ha (1195 acres)

© Chris Brenda

Shawnee National Forest, Bell Smith Springs Recreation Area

Pope County, Illinois (Southern), Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Paul J. Marcum, Illinois Natural History Museum Botanist; Christopher Benda, Southern Illinois Plants of Concern Coordinator/Botanist

This remote site is home to over 700 species of vascular plants and is incredibly scenic. Formerly owned by Bell Smith, this area is one of few in the region with springs that allow for watering holes in the summer and is a favorite spot for locals who jump off the rocks and swim in the waters. Several trails transverse the site, and for those willing to work to see a variety of natural communities, from sandstone glades to oak woodlands, cliffs and creeks, the blue trail is recommended. Noteworthy plants abound, with 13 rare plant species documented in the sandstone canyon. Be sure to check out the Devil’s Backbone by descending the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) era stone stairs from the parking area and following the trail to the right (west). Alternatively, descend Bay Creek to the left (east) and cross Bay Creek to see a natural arch, the largest in Illinois. An iron rung ladder to the right of the natural arch will lead hikers to the top of the arch.

U.S. Forest Service; 218 ha (540 acres)

© Chris Brenda

Shawnee National Forest, Rim Rock National Recreation Trail

Gallatin County, Illinois (Southern), Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Paul J. Marcum, Illinois Natural History Museum Botanist; Christopher Benda, Southern Illinois Plants of Concern Coordinator/Botanist

Near the east end of Karber’s Ridge Road, near the Gardens of the Gods Observation Area, is a site with a short loop trail that is worthy of attention. Rim Rock National Recreation Trail is one of eleven “stone forts” of southern Illinois, areas where indigenous people of the Late Woodland culture erected stone walls. All of them have been dismantled, but two have been reconstructed: Rim Rock and Giant City State Park. The trail is within the Pounds Hollow Ecological Area, which contains high quality examples of sandstone glade and cliff communities and leads around the escarpment made of Pounds Sandstone. At the bottom is Ox-Lot Cave and along the way spring wildflowers abound, Eastern Shooting Star (Primula meadia) above, Liverleaf (Hepatica acutiloba) on the slopes, and Puttyroot (Aplectrum hyemale) below. This is a delightful trail any time of the year.

U.S. Forest Service; 98 ha (243 acres)

© Chris Brenda

Brown County State Park

Brown County, Indiana (southern), Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Scott Namestnik, Indiana Natural Heritage Botanist; Mike Homoya, Indiana Natural Heritage Botanist, retired

Located near the north end of the Interior Low Plateaus that extends into Indiana from the south, the “Little Smokies,” as the park is known, is a series of plateaus dissected by steep ravines. Aspect and position on the slopes create a variety of forest types including acidic dry forest, rich mesic forest, and floodplain forest. In addition, the park is directly bordered by Yellowwood State Forest and Hoosier National Forest and is part of the largest block of contiguous forest in the state.

Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of State Parks; 6,388 ha (16,031 acres)

© Michael Homoya

Clark State Forest

Clark, Scott, and Washington Counties, Indiana (southern), Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Scott Namestnik, Indiana Natural Heritage Botanist; Mike Homoya, Indiana Natural Heritage Botanist, retired

Indiana’s oldest state forest is on sandstone, shale, and limestone substrates in the Knobstone Escarpment in the southeastern part of the state. Rugged terrain is characteristic of the area, which supports Virginia pine forest on the driest knobs as well as oak-hickory acidic forests, mesic forests with abundant wildflowers and ferns, scattered cliffs, and a few open woodlands with barrens understories. Some species with Appalachian affinities are found here.

Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry; 10,365 ha (25,612 acres)

© Michael Homoya

Clifty Falls State Park

Jefferson County, Indiana (southern), Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Scott Namestnik, Indiana Natural Heritage Botanist; Mike Homoya, Indiana Natural Heritage Botanist, retired

Indiana Department of Natural Resources – Division of State Parks; 615 ha (1,519 acres)

Known for its four waterfalls ranging from 60 to 83 feet, this park is characterized by Ordovician rock beds that have been carved by streams, resulting in deep gorges and a canyon with numerous exposed fossils. Clifty Canyon Nature Preserve hosts calcareous mesic forests on lower slopes and in ravine bottoms, dry-mesic to dry oak-hickory forests on upper slopes and ridgetops, and spectacular limestone cliffs. The park is northeast of Louisville, Kentucky.

Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of State Parks; 615 ha (1,519 acres)

© John Maxwell

Harrison-Crawford State Forest and O’Bannon Woods State Park

Crawford, Harrison, and Orange Counties, Indiana, Indiana (southern), Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Scott Namestnik, Indiana Natural Heritage Botanist; Mike Homoya, Indiana Natural Heritage Botanist, retired

Bordering the Ohio River in south-central Indiana, this area is characterized by rugged karst topography containing large limestone cliffs, caves, and mesic and dry-mesic calcareous woodlands and forest. Also present are widely scattered but small limestone glades and barrens that harbor species with prairie affinities. The Blue River, which more or less divides the region, is bordered by gravel bars and riverscours with many interesting riparian plants.

Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Division of State Parks; 10,774 ha (26,622 acres)

© Scott Namestnik

Hoosier National Forest

Brown, Crawford, Dubois, Jackson, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, and Perry Counties, Indiana (southern), Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Scott Namestnik, Indiana Natural Heritage Botanist; Mike Homoya, Indiana Natural Heritage Botanist, retired

Located primarily in the Shawnee Hills Natural Region of the Interior Low Plateaus, this large, rugged area protects various types of forests (especially dry acid forests on upper slopes and calcareous mesic forests in coves), acid seeps, sinkholes, limestone barrens, sandstone glades, sandstone cliffs, box canyons, impressive rockhouses, and caves and other karst features. Scenic waterfalls and species with an affinity to the Appalachian Mountains are found here.

U.S. Forest Service; 82,556 ha (204,000 acres)

© Scott Namestnik

McCormick’s Creek State Park

Owen County, Indiana (southern), Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Scott Namestnik, Indiana Natural Heritage Botanist; Mike Homoya, Indiana Natural Heritage Botanist, retired

Straddling the Shawnee Hills and Highland Rim Natural Regions along the White River near the northern extent of unglaciated Indiana, Indiana’s first state park protects limestone canyons and wooded hills and valleys. The calcareous mesic and dry-mesic forests with floodplain forests bordering streams and creeks support old growth with abundant wildflowers and include creeks, scenic waterfalls, and karst features such as caves, sinkholes, and resurgent streams.

Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of State Parks; 794 ha (1,961 acres)

© David Mow

Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge

Jackson and Jennings Counties, Indiana (southern), Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Scott Namestnik, Indiana Natural Heritage Botanist; Mike Homoya, Indiana Natural Heritage Botanist, retired

This refuge, named after the river that borders the property on the south, consists mostly of relatively level terrain composed of wetlands, including bottomland forests, swamps, and seep springs. There are also impoundments of various depths. The refuge is interesting as there is a diverse mix of plants with southern affinities, some of which are rather disjunct here. Access is good, and there is a nice visitor’s center on the property.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 3,136 ha (7,750 acres)

© Scott Namestnik

Spring Mill State Park

Lawrence County , Indiana (southern), Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Scott Namestnik, Indiana Natural Heritage Botanist; Mike Homoya, Indiana Natural Heritage Botanist, retired

Spring Mill State Park is located within the heart of Indiana’s karst topography. The park’s landscape is dotted with sinkholes covered with mesic and dry mesic calcareous forests. While many of the slopes are quite rocky, no sizable cliffs exist. One jewel of the park, Donaldson’s Woods Nature Preserve, contains what is perhaps the finest old growth forest in the state. Located above nearby Donaldson’s Cave is a small glade-like area.

Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of State Parks; 550 ha (1,358 acres)

© Sheree Belt

Twin Swamps Nature Preserve and Wabash Lowlands Nature Preserve

Posey County, Indiana (southern), Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Scott Namestnik, Indiana Natural Heritage Botanist; Mike Homoya, Indiana Natural Heritage Botanist, retired

Located near the confluence of the Wabash and Ohio rivers, these properties contain plants with strong southern affinities. Several of them occur near the northern limit of their Midwestern range, being more common in the Mississippi embayment. Primary natural communities include oxbow lakes, swamps, flatwoods, and floodplain forests. Twin Swamps Nature Preserve provides easy access via a trail and elevated boardwalk into a natural bald cypress swamp.

Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fish and Wildlife and Division of Nature Preserves, AND The Nature Conservancy; 416 ha (1,028 acres)

© Michael Homoya

Versailles State Park

Ripley County, Indiana (southern), Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Scott Namestnik, Indiana Natural Heritage Botanist; Mike Homoya, Indiana Natural Heritage Botanist, retired

Versailles State Park is home to four state dedicated nature preserves. Their principal natural communities consist of mesic and dry-mesic upland forests on rugged terrain. Both forest types are calcareous and quite rocky. Providing an interesting contrast to the upland forests is a wet, acidic flatwoods community in the southern portion of the park. There are also a few small “slump prairies” located on steep south and southwest-facing slopes.

Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of State Parks; 2,423 ha (5,988 acres)

© Michael Homoya

Ballard Wildlife Management Area

Ballard County, Kentucky, Coastal Plain. Tara Littlefield, Vanessa Voelker, Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves Botanists

Ballard Wildlife Management Area is located in the Ohio River Bottomlands of far western Kentucky. Many of the wetlands here are comprised of rare cypress-tupelo swamps and sloughs, a habitat more common in the southeast but quite rare in Kentucky. The variety of wetland habitats, from open to more densely forested wetlands, can be easily accessed through the many trails and access roads. This area is also very important for waterfowl and aquatic animals. Ballard WMA boasts an enormous population of state endangered Bog Loosestrife (Lysimachia terrestris) that numbers in the thousands, and can be seen right along the entrance road, a stunning sight to behold in June when the entire population is blooming. Throughout the sloughs and marshy areas, state rare wetland graminoids such as Giant Sedge (Carex gigantea), Brown Bog Sedge (Carex buxbaumii), River Bulrush (Bolboschoenus fluviatilis), and Swamp Barnyard-grass (Echinochloa walteri) can be found, as well as rare and conservative forbs like Tall Burhead (Echinodorus berteroi), American Frog’s-bit (Limnobium spongia), Oneflower Fiddleleaf (Hydrolea uniflora), Blue Mud-Plantain (Heteranthera limosa), Lake Cress (Rorippa aquatica), and Featherfoil (Hottonia inflata). [More here]

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resource; 3,248 hectares (8,025 acres)

© Jeff Nelson

Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area

Lyon and Trigg Counties, Kentucky, Coastal Plain. Tara Littlefield, Vanessa Voelker, Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves Botanists

Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area is in western Kentucky and Tennessee, nestled between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. Many forested habitats occur in this large natural area, including calcareous forests and bluffs that overlook the lakes, various types of wetlands, and a large complex of high-quality prairie remnants that occur primarily along the roadsides. In particular, the Woodlands Trace National Scenic Byway (State Highway 453) offers incredible views of remnant grassland in the summer, with state rare species such as Prairie Grass-leaved Aster (Eurybia hemispherica), Eastern Skeleton Grass (Gymnopogon ambiguus), and Tansy Rosinweed (Silphium pinnatifidum), as well as many other conservative prairie species like Plains Wild Indigo (Baptisia leucophaea var. leucophaea), Appalachian Blazing Star (Liatris squarrulosa), Scaly Blazing Star (Liatris squarrosa var. squarrosa), Northern Rattlesnake-master (Eryngium yuccifolium var. yuccifolium), Eastern Agave (Agave virginica), Virginia Goat's-rue (Tephrosia virginiana), Clasping Milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis), Blue Sage (Salvia azurea var. grandiflora), and numerous species of asters (Symphyotrichum spp.), goldenrods (Solidago spp.), and woodland sunflowers (Helianthus spp). Rare plants found in the wetlands include Water Stargrass (Heteranthera dubia), Slender Naiad (Najas gracillima), Lake Cress (Rorippa aquatica), Grass-leaved Arrowhead (Sagittaria graminea), Eelgrass (Vallisneria americana), and Water Hickory (Carya aquatica). And don’t forget to take a drive through Elk and Bison Prairie sanctuary! [More here]

U.S. Forest Service; 69,315 hectares (171,280 acres)

© Tara Littlefield

Mantle Rock Nature Preserve

Livingston County, Kentucky, Coastal Plain. Tara Littlefield, Vanessa Voelker, Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves Botanists

This preserve includes a 30-foot-high natural sandstone bridge/arch spanning 188 feet along with sandstone bluffs, glades, rock shelters, and sandstone boulder lined creek. The preserve contains spectacular spring wildflower displays that are easily viewed from the trails, along with upland forests interspersed with the best remaining examples in Kentucky of the Shawnees hills sandstone glades, Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana), Blackjack Oak (Quercus marilandica var. marilandica), and Farkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum) dominated barrens surrounding sandstone glades with Common Eastern Prickly-pear (Opuntia cespitosa), Hairy Lipfern (Myriopteris lanosa), Common Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium var. scoparium) and Poverty Oat-grass (Danthonia spicata). Mantle Rock is the only known location in Kentucky where Prairie Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha) occurs, a species more common west of the Mississippi River. These are rare and fragile ecosystems, so please tread lightly! [More here]

The Nature Conservancy; 149 hectares (367 acres)

© Tara Littlefield

Blue Licks State Nature Preserve and State Park

Robertson and Nicholas Counties, Kentucky, Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Tara Littlefield, Vanessa Voelker, Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves Botanists

The State Nature Preserve at Blue Licks State Park protects the rare outer bluegrass limestone glades and barrens and post oak woodland communities that contain the federally endangered and globally rare Kentucky Goldenrod (Solidago shortii). A short trail with a narrow boardwalk traverses through this sensitive habitat, and takes visitors right beside populations of other rare and conservative prairie species such as Great Plains Lady’s-tresses (Spiranthes magnicamporum), Pale Gentian (Gentiana alba), Midwestern Gentianella (Gentianella occidentalis), Eastern Kuhnia (Brickellia eupatorioides), Common New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus var. americanus), and many asters and goldenrods (Symphyotrichum and Solidago spp.) Interestingly, the existing trail system was a former historic bison trace hundreds of years ago. The adjacent state park also has trails to the Licking River that contain calcareous mesophytic forests with forests rich with spring ephemerals limestone river scour communities along the river and tributaries. The river and creeks are also important habitat for federally endangered and threatened mussels, such as the Fanshell (Cyprogenia stegaria) and Longsolid (Fusconaia subrotunda). [More here]

Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves and Kentucky State Parks; 455 hectares, (1,125 acres)

© Tara Littlefield

John James Audubon State Park and Nature Preserve

Henderson County , Kentucky, Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Tara Littlefield, Vanessa Voelker, Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves Botanists

This nature preserve and state park occurs along the Ohio River and contains several natural communities including mature rich deep soil calcareous forests, limestone outcrop and bluff communities along the Ohio, and numerous wetlands that occur in the Ohio River valley. The wetlands contain both open and forested communities, which are home to bald eagle nests and a heron rookery. The wetlands here also serve as an important habitat for waterfowl and amphibians. The majority of the communities are easily assessable from the trails and boardwalks. In the rich upland forests, spring ephemerals are abundant and include Dutchman’s Britches (Dicentra cucullaria), Squirrel Corn (Dicentra canadensis), Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata), False Rue-anemone (Enemion biternatum), Dwarf Larkspur (Delphinium tricorne), Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica), Eastern Blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia verna), and well as two small state rare wildflowers, Western Buttercup Phacelia (Phacelia ranunculacea) and White Nemophila (Nemophila aphylla). In low woods and wetlands, plants like Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), Lizard’s-tail (Saururus cernuus), Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis var. cardinalis), Woodland Spiderlily (Hymenocallis occidentalis var. occidentalis), and Smooth Rose-mallow (Hibiscus laevis) can be found. [More here]

Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves and Kentucky State Parks; 406 hectares (1,003 acres)

© Brian Yahn

Kentucky River Palisades/Tom Dorman State Nature Preserve

Garrard and Jessamine Counties , Kentucky, Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Tara Littlefield, Vanessa Voelker, Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves Botanists

This preserve is known for its spectacular 220-foot limestone palisades and several miles of trails along the Kentucky River in Garrard and Jessamine Counties. It protects many unique communities in the Inner Bluegrass Palisades region including limestone cliffs, outcrops, and rich calcareous mesophytic forests. The limestone cliffs and bluffs contain cedar, chinquapin oak and blue ash barrens communities with a very unique assemblage of plants. The area is known for its lush and diverse spring flora occurring on the forested north- and east-facing slopes. Several rare plants can be found grow on the limestone cliffs including Starry Phlox (Phlox bifida), Glade Violet (Viola egglestonii), and Purple Oatgrass (Schizachne purpurescens), while the state endangered Tufted Hairgrass (Deschampsia cespitosa ssp. glauca) is known from the banks of the Kentucky River below. [More here]

Office of Kentucky Nature Preserve; 382 hectares (945 acres)

© Tara Littlefield

Pine Creek Barrens State Nature Preserve

Bullitt County, Kentucky, Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Tara Littlefield, Vanessa Voelker, Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves Botanists

Pine Creek Barrens State Nature Preserve is located just south of Louisville and north of Bernheim Forest and Elizabethtown. It is one of the best remaining examples of a limestone dolomite glade, featuring an extensive barrens and outcrop complex, along with rich calcareous mesophytic forest along Pine Creek and Cedar Creek. These natural communities are easily accessible from 3 miles of trails and there are interesting assemblages of flowering plants to see in all seasons. From the rich spring ephemerals and unique glade plants that peak in spring, to the summer and fall prairie displays of coneflower, blazing star, bluestem, and poverty grass in the barrens complex. In the glades and barrens, notable species include the federally threatened Kentucky endemic species, Kentucky Glade Cress (Leavenworthia exigua var. laciniata), and numerous state listed species such as Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis), Purple Prairie-clover (Dalea purpurea), Great Plains Lady’s-tresses (Spiranthes magnicamporum), Hairy Fimbry (Fimbristylis puberula), Glade Violet (Viola egglestonii), Crawe’s Sedge (Carex crawei), Barrens Silky Aster (Symphyotrichum pratense), and Ringseed Rush (Juncus filipendulus).

The Nature Conservancy; 64 hectares (158 acres)

© Brian Yahn

Bad Branch State Nature Preserve

Letcher County , Kentucky, Mountains. Submitted by Tara Littlefield, Vanessa Voelker, Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves Botanists

Bad Branch State Nature Preserve contains acidic forested slopes surrounding several deep, rugged sandstone gorges on the south face of Pine Mountain in southeastern Letcher County. Natural communities such as mature eastern hemlock forests, Appalachian mesophytic and xeric forests, sandstone cliff lines, rock houses, and outcrops are all easily accessible from the trails, and interesting plants to study can be found year-round. First botanized by Dr. Lucy Braun in the 1930s, the land was acquired to protect habitat that supports more than thirty species of rare flora and fauna. Rare plant species that can be found here include state endangered species such as Fraser’s Sedge (Carex fraseriana), Nerveless Woodland Sedge (Carex leptonervia), Daisyleaf Moonwort (Botrychium matricariifolium), Brook-saxifrage (Boykinia aconitifolia), Mountain Fetterbush (Eubotrys recurvus) Appalachian Bluet (Houstonia serpyllifolia), and Canada Burnet (Sanguisorba canadensis), as well as state threatened species like Cliff Saxifrage (Micranthes petiolaris var. petiolaris), Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis), and Honestyweed (Baptisia tinctoria). Natural feature highlights include the cathedral of towering Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), a 60-foot waterfall, and the scenic overlook at High Rock, a majestic sandstone outcrop that overlooks Kentucky’s forested mountains. [More here]

Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves; 1,145 ha (2,829 acres)

© Tara Littlefield

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

McCreary County , Kentucky, Mountains. Submitted by Tara Littlefield, Vanessa Voelker, Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves Botanists

Spanning both Kentucky and Tennessee, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area contains the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River, which runs wild through 90 miles of sandstone gorges and valleys. This area is one of Kentucky’s most diverse botanical hotspots, in part due to its river scour prairies, a unique community rich with prairie forbs and grasses that occurs along the cobble bars and scour areas. Trails leading to the scour communities and river banks offer a glimpse of this the habitat of many state endangered species, including Eastern Blue Monkshood (Aconitum uncinatum), Cumberland Sandreed (Calamovilfa arcuata), Cumberland Rosemary (Conradina verticillata), Sweet-fern (Comptonia peregrina), Beautiful Barbara's buttons (Marshallia pulchra), American Barberry (Berberis canadensis), and Chapman's triodia (Tridens chapmanii), as well as state threatened species like Rockcastle Wood-aster (Eurybia saxicastelli), Threadfoot (Podostemum ceratophyllum), Golden Club (Orontium aquaticum), and Marsh Pea, (Lathyrus palustris), and the state special concern Tall Blue Wild Indigo (Baptisia australis), Black Warrior Goldenrod (Solidago arenicola), Common Hairy Coreopsis (Coreopsis pubescens var. pubescens). There are also numerous trails that pass through botanically rich habitats such as Appalachian mesophytic forests, sandstone cliff lines, rock houses and outcrops, where other state listed species can be seen, such as Carolina Green-and-gold (Chrysogonum repens), Cumberland Sandwort (Geocarpon cumberlandensis), Mountain Bunchflower (Melanthium parviflorum), Appalachian Sandwort (Geocarpon glabrum), and Rockhouse White Snakeroot (Ageratina luciae-brauniae). [More here]

National Park Service; 50,586 hectares (125,000 acres)

© Tara Littlefield

Daniel Boone National Forest: Red River Gorge Geological Area

Menifee, Powell, and Wolfe Counties, Kentucky, Mountains. Submitted by Tara Littlefield, Vanessa Voelker, Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves Botanists

The Red River Gorge is known for its towering sandstone cliffs, rockhouses and rich Appalachian forests. The Red River itself is a state designated wild river that carved the gorge and contains one of the few areas where you can find limestone soils with calciphyles such as the ephemeral bluebells (Mertensia virginiana) that carpet the riparian areas in the spring. While it is a popular recreation area for climbing, backpacking, and hiking, it also contains truly unique habitats and is home to the Rockhouse Goldenrod (Solidago albopilosa), a narrowly endemic species found only in Kentucky. This globally rare wildflower grows in the loose sandy soils of sandstone rockhouses and occurs within a 30-mile radius range in the Red River Gorge area. Appalachian mesophytic and hemlock mixed forests thick with rhododendron are common in the gorge, and the upland forests are a great place to view more open sandstone outcrops, heath shrub dominated communities, and pine-oak woodlands. These uplands are one of the best areas in Kentucky to sniff out the clove-like fragrance of Appalachian Pigmy Pipes (Monotropsis odorata), a rare hemiparasitic plant and one of the few wildflowers you’re better off finding with your nose rather than your eyes. Other rare plants you might spot along various trails in the gorge include the state endangered Cow-wheat (Melampyrum lineare), the state threatened Featherbells (Stenanthium gramineum var. gramineum), Rock Skullcap (Scutellaria saxatilis), Canadian Yew (Taxus canadensis), and Canada Mayflower (Maianthemum canadense), and state special concern Appalachian Filmy Fern (Vandenboschia boschiana), Alpine Enchanter's-nightshade (Circaea alpina ssp. alpina), Rockhouse White Snakeroot (Ageratina luciae-brauniae), and Mountain Yellow Violet (Viola glaberrima). [More here]

U.S. Forest Service; 11,736 hectares (29,000 acres)

© Kendall McDonald

Fishing Bay Wildlife Management Area

Dorchester County, Maryland, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Jim Brighton, Co-founder of the Maryland Biodiversity Project; Wes Knapp, Chief Botanist, NatureServe

Fishing Bay WMA is a large tract of land located in the tidal marshes of southern Dorchester County. Main access is from Elliott Island Road, south of Vienna. Birding legend Harry Armistead calls the marshes of Fishing Bay the Everglades of the North with good cause since the marshes extend for miles interspersed with small hammocks of Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda). When traveling south on Elliott Island Road, you will pass through a variety of wetland habitats. Just south of Henry’s Crossroads you will enter a brief stretch of oligohaline habitat with very interesting plant species growing along the roadside ditches. Unfortunately, Common Reed (Phragmites australis) is taking over this area, so visit soon! The salt marshes to the south are dominated by Black Needle Rush (Juncus roemerianus) and Common Threesquare (Schoenoplectus pungens var. pungens). July-August is the best time to visit for plant diversity, but please be aware of the biting flies and mosquitos.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources; 11,736 hectares (29,000 acres).

© Jim Brighton

Pocomoke River State Park: Mattaponi Landing and Ponds

Worcester County, Maryland, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Jim Brighton, Co-founder of the Maryland Biodiversity Project; Wes Knapp, Chief Botanist, NatureServe

Mattaponi Landing and Ponds is a large area composed of bottomland swamps, Loblolly Pine woods, seasonal wetlands, and a few large ponds. Blades Road allows access to the area and there is a parking area (38.124088, -75.467334) where you can access the ponds and seasonal wetlands. The sandy acidic soils make for an interesting flora in the open wet habitats. Campsites are available near the ponds if you can handle the mosquitos (reservations required). Blades Road turns to dirt just past the pond's parking area. The road dead ends at a small parking area at Mattaponi Landing, a perfect place to launch a kayak and explore the swampy spatterdock-strewn banks of the Pocomoke River.

Maryland Park Service of the Department of Natural Resources; 50 hectares (124 acres)



© Jim Brighton

St. Mary’s River State Park

St. Mary’s County, Maryland, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Jim Brighton, Co-founder of the Maryland Biodiversity Project; Wes Knapp, Chief Botanist, NatureServe

St. Mary’s River State Park comprises two sections; St. Mary’s Lake (Section 1) and the much larger 2200-acre Indian Bridge Forest (Section 2). The St. Mary’s Lake section of St. Mary’s River State Park is a 250-acre parcel of land that surrounds a large man-made lake. There is a 7.5-mile trail that circles the lake. Dry Chestnut Oak dominated woodlands with ericaceous understory along with bottomland swamps are just a few of the habitats that you can traverse on the lake trail. The shallow sandy lake edge also holds interesting microhabitats including sphagnum seeps. There are two parking areas allowing access to the larger portion of the park on Indian Bridge Road. Walking trails begin at both parking areas. These trails transect various pine and hardwood forests and stream habitats.

Maryland Park Service of the Department of Natural Resources; 991 hectares (2450 acres)

© Richard Orr

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park: Ferry Hill to Snyder’s Landing

Washington County, Maryland, Mountains. Submitted by Jim Brighton, Co-founder of the Maryland Biodiversity Project; Wes Knapp, Chief Botanist, NatureServe

Ferry Hill was a plantation owned by John Blackford in the early 1800s. The plantation house is now a Visitor Center for the National Park Service. The C&O Canal can be accessed from the Visitor Center by a series of trails that wind through the forested slopes above the Potomac River. The dramatic cliffs harbor many calciphiles along with state endangered American Arborvitae, also known as Northern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis). Once you reach the C&O Canal Towpath, walk up river. The old canal, which is now mostly dry, allows access to the base of the cliffs which run from Ferry Hill to Snyder’s Landing (3.5 miles). Spring can be absolutely spectacular along this stretch of the C&O Canal Towpath.

National Park Service; 138 hectares (340 acres).

© Jim Brighton

Finzel Swamp Preserve

Garrett County, Maryland, Mountains. Submitted by Jim Brighton, Co-founder of the Maryland Biodiversity Project; Wes Knapp, Chief Botanist, NatureServe

Finzel Swamp is a large boreal fen protected and owned by the Nature Conservancy. It is located at the headwaters of the Savage River in northeastern Garrett County. A vast shrub swamp, wet meadows, and forested seeps make Finzel Swamp rich in plant diversity. A single trail with three bridges traverses the swamp and gives access to the wet meadows and a large pond on the eastern edge of the property. Finzel Swamp contains one of the last stands of Eastern Larch (Larix laricina) in the state.

The Nature Conservancy; 132 hectares (326 acres).

© Richard Orr

Green Ridge State Forest

Allegany County, Maryland, Mountains. Submitted by Jim Brighton, Co-founder of the Maryland Biodiversity Project; Wes Knapp, Chief Botanist, NatureServe

Green Ridge State Forest is one of the largest tracts of public land in Maryland. With over 80 miles of trails and 100 campsites, there is an abundance of habitats to explore, but the Appalachian Shale Barrens are the star of the show. Appalachian Shale Barrens are a rare ecosystem only found in the Ridge and Valley Province of Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Shale Barrens occur on steep, very dry, south-facing slopes and there are many to explore in Green Ridge SF. Piclic Shale Barren, located at the intersection of 15 Mile Creek Road and Piclic Road is easily accessible and can be viewed from the road. There are also stream-side bottomlands, and rich woodlands to botanize. The Sideling Creek bottomlands along Cliff Road are also worth investigating.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources; 19,020 hectares (47,000 acres).

© Jim Brighton

Lost Land Run Natural Area

Garrett County, Maryland, Mountains. Submitted by Jim Brighton, Co-founder of the Maryland Biodiversity Project; Wes Knapp, Chief Botanist, NatureServe

Lost Land Run Natural Area is a section of Potomac State Forest that runs from the base of Backbone Mountain, east to the Potomac River. Rich hardwood forests with sandstone outcrops and steep cliffs towering above the rapids of the Potomac make for a dramatic landscape. According to MD DNR, most of Lost Land Run Natural Area is made of acidic soils, but there are pockets of calcareous habitat, especially on the cliffs along the Potomac River. Lost Land Run Road parallels the creek and dead ends at the Potomac. There is also a trail that runs three miles from the Ranger Station on Camp Run Road down to the Potomac. The trail ends at the parking area of Lost Land Run Road.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources; 308 hectares (760 acres).

© Jim Brighton

Gunpowder Falls State Park: Hereford Area

Baltimore County, Maryland, Piedmont. Submitted by Jim Brighton, Co-founder of the Maryland Biodiversity Project; Wes Knapp, Chief Botanist, NatureServe

Located in northern Baltimore County, the Hereford Area of Gunpowder Falls State Park is a great location to escape from the insanity of the city. Over twenty miles of trails give access to a variety of habitats. The trail through the Masemore Hemlock Ravines is of special interest since it transects one of the few remaining stands of Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) in the Maryland Piedmont. Unfortunately, the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is wreaking havoc on the trees. This area is well known for its spring ephemeral show. Trilliums (Trillium spp), Dutchman Britches (Dicentra cucullaria), and Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) carpet the forest slopes in late April.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources, 1465 hectares (3620 acres)

© Jim Brighton

Soldier’s Delight Natural Environmental Area

Baltimore County, Maryland, Piedmont. Submitted by Jim Brighton, Co-founder of the Maryland Biodiversity Project; Wes Knapp, Chief Botanist, NatureServe

Soldier’s Delight is the largest managed Serpentine Barren in Maryland. There are over seven miles of trails allowing visitors to experience the sparseness of the barrens, but also the dry Virginia Pine (Pinus virginiana) and Blackjack Oak (Quercus marilandica) woodlands. According to MD DNR, there are over 39 rare plant species that are found on the property. Because of the sensitivity of the landscape, visitors are asked to stay on the trails. Luckily, many of the plant specialties can be observed from the walking trails. There is a Visitor Center on property with ample parking and most trails can be accessed from the Visitor Center.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources; 770 hectares (1900 acres).

© Jim Brighton

Cheesequake State Park

Monmouth County, New Jersey, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Kathleen Strakosch Walz, New Jersey Natural Heritage Ecologist

Cheesequake State Park is on the coastal plain of New Jersey at the transition of northern hardwood forest and southern pine barrens ecosystem at sea level, with a remarkable diversity of habitat and native flora. Kayak along tidal creeks to access salt marsh and freshwater marsh, or hike the many trails on the undulating terrain with ravines where upland forest grades into wetlands such as Atlantic white cedar swamp. [More here] Disclaimer: collection of plants, fungi, and animals (common or otherwise) is strictly prohibited on State Lands and people are encouraged to stay on designated trails.

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection; 745 hectares (1,840 acres)

© New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

Island Beach State Park

Ocean County, New Jersey, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Kathleen Strakosch Walz, New Jersey Natural Heritage Ecologist

Island Beach State Park is one of New Jersey's last significant remnants of a barrier island ecosystem that once existed along much of the coast and is also one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier beaches on the north Atlantic coast. Over 3,000 acres and 10 miles of coastal dunes remain almost untouched since Henry Hudson first described New Jersey's coast from the ship, the Half Moon, in 1609. This narrow barrier island, formed by water, wind and salt, supports outstanding examples of plant communities including beach, primary dune, wind swept secondary dune thickets, salt stunted maritime forest, freshwater wetland, and tidal marsh in the Sedge Islands Marine Conservation Zone of the Barnegat Bay. One road, cross island trails and boardwalks provide access to dynamic habitats that support more than 400 plant species. [More here] and [Here] Disclaimer: collection of plants, fungi, and animals (common or otherwise) is strictly prohibited on State Lands and people are encouraged to stay on designated trails.

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection; 1,216 hectares (3006 acres)

© New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

Wharton State Forest

Burlington, Atlantic and Camden counties, New Jersey, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Kathleen Strakosch Walz, New Jersey Natural Heritage Ecologist

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection; 50,323 hectares (124,350 acres)

Located in the heart of the New Jersey Pine Barrens, Wharton State Forest is the largest single tract of land within the New Jersey State Park System. It is also the site of Batsto Village, a former bog iron and glassmaking industrial center from 1766 to 1867, which has an excellent museum with information on natural history. Canoeing on the tannin-rich rivers and streams is a great way to be in the wilderness surrounded by Atlantic white cedar and hardwood swamps fed by the pristine groundwater of the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer. Hiking trails get you into the vast pitch pine dominated forest, an ecosystem maintained by wildfire. The 50-mile Batona (Back To Nature) trail traverses uplands, wetlands, and rivers, and connects Bass River State Park, Wharton State Forest, Franklin Parker Preserve, and Brendan T. Byrne State Forest. The unique ecology and globally rare flora of the New Jersey Pine Barrens is recognized and designated as the UNESCO Pinelands Biosphere Reserve. [More here], [Here] and [Here]. Disclaimer: collection of plants, fungi, and animals (common or otherwise) is strictly prohibited on State Lands and people are encouraged to stay on designated trails.

Photo Credit: https://www.pinelandsadventures.org/adventure/pine-barrens-101

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Sussex County, Warren County (and Monroe County, Pennsylvania), New Jersey, Mountains. Submitted by Kathleen Strakosch Walz, New Jersey Natural Heritage Ecologist

The Delaware Water Gap is a dramatic notch in the Kittatinny Ridge of the Appalachians formed by the Delaware River as it cut through ancient layers of folded Shawangunk sandstone conglomerate and shales. On the New Jersey side of the Gap, Mt. Tammany dominates the terrain, with dry mixed hardwood forest, steep exposed outcrops, cliffs, talus slopes on the escarpment, and steep ravines with streams and waterfalls. The trails are well marked and continue into adjacent Worthington State Forest Dunnfield Creek Natural Area. Similar habitats occur on Mount Minsi across the river in Pennsylvania. [More here]

National Park Service; 28,032 hectares (69,269 acres)

Photo Credit: https://peakvisor.com/adm/new-jersey.html

High Point State Park

Sussex County, New Jersey, Mountains. Submitted by Kathleen Strakosch Walz, New Jersey Natural Heritage Ecologist

High Point State Park features the highest point of the glaciated Kittatinny Ridge of the Appalachian Mountains in northwestern New Jersey with a range of forested and open acidic upland and wetland habitats readily accessible along park trails including the Appalachian Trail. The High Point Monument offers spectacular views of mountains and Delaware River in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. [More here] Disclaimer: collection of plants, fungi, and animals (common or otherwise) is strictly prohibited on State Lands and people are encouraged to stay on designated trails.

New Jersey Department of Protection; 6,545 hectares (16,172 acres)

Photo Credit: https://peakvisor.com/adm/new-jersey.html

Sparta Mountain Wildlife Management Area

Sussex County, New Jersey, Mountains. Submitted by Kathleen Strakosch Walz, New Jersey Natural Heritage Ecologist

Located in the New York – New Jersey Highlands, this wildlife management area is characterized by rugged terrain underlain by ancient crystalline metamorphic bedrock with rich mineral deposits, supporting a diverse flora in rich upland forests, wooded swamps, streams, ponds, lakes, and vernal pools. The history of the area includes an iron ore mining operation owned and managed by Thomas A. Edison, which is now a National Historic Site. This site is managed cooperatively by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and New Jersey Audubon Society. An extensive network of trails provides access to habitats rich in natural resources and history. [More here] Disclaimer: collection of plants, fungi, and animals (common or otherwise) is strictly prohibited on State Lands and people are encouraged to stay on designated trails.

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection; 1400 hectares (3461 acres)

© Jason Hafstad

Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Morris County, New Jersey, Piedmont. Submitted by Kathleen Strakosch Walz, New Jersey Natural Heritage Ecologist

Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is located in the remnants of Glacial Lake Passaic on the west side of the Watchung Mountains. A mosaic of forested and herbaceous wetlands with a patchwork of upland mesic forest, this refuge is home to remarkable biodiversity. Access loop roads, trails, boardwalks, and an interpretive center at the adjacent Somerset County Lord Sterling Environmental Education Center provide accessibility year-round. [More here]

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 3143 hectares (7,768 acres)

© Andrew Martin

Watchung Reservation

Union County, New Jersey, Piedmont. Submitted by Kathleen Strakosch Walz, New Jersey Natural Heritage Ecologist

The Watchung Mountains of New Jersey, formed by three ancient lava flows, form a set of long, low, curved ridges set interbedded with sedimentary sandstones of the Piedmont. The mafic basalt, or traprock, supports a remarkable floristic diversity on the bedrock outcrops and glades. Watchung Reservation has the Trailside Nature & Science Center, miles of trails through woodlands, fields, lakes, streams, and a rich history from the Revolutionary War. Additional parks on the first Watchung Mountain worth exploring include Garrett Mountain Reservation, Rifle Camp Park, and South Mountain Reservation. [More here]

Union County Department of Parks and Recreation; 836 hectares (2,065 acres)

Photo Credit: NJHiking.com

Calverton Ponds Area

Hamlet of Manorville, New York (southern Long Island), Coastal Plain. Submitted by Steve Young, New York Natural Heritage Botanist, retired

The Calverton Ponds Area north of Manorville is a series of county and state preserves and one Nature Conservancy preserve that feature chains of coastal plain ponds within pitch pine-oak forest accessible by trails starting from small parking areas along the roads. These preserves, along with the Long Pond Greenbelt, have the most rare plants and animals in the state. It is really a botanist, birder and nature photographer paradise.

The Nature Conservancy, Suffolk County, New York State; 3217 ha (7950 acres) [Includes TNC Calverton Ponds Preserve; 141 ha (350 acres), Robert Cushman Murphy County Park; 890 ha (2200 acres), and DEC Otis Pike Preserve; 2185 ha (5400 acres)]

© Steve Young

Central Pine Barrens Preserves

Suffolk County, New York (southern Long Island), Coastal Plain. Submitted by Steve Young, New York Natural Heritage Botanist, retired

The New York Central Pine Barrens covers a 100,000-acre+ area of central Long Island and is dominated by pitch pine-oak forest and pitch pine-oak-heath woodland. An area north of Westhampton is designated as the Dwarf Pine Plains where pitch pines are dwarfed by certain environmental conditions. Large areas of Pine Barrens are preserved on state land and feature parking areas and extensive trails for hiking, skiing and snowshoeing, mountain biking, and horse riding at certain times of the day and year. The southern pine beetle has recently killed many pitch pines in some areas of the barrens but there are still lots of places to explore the unique and varied plant and animal life that thrive here.

New York State, The Nature Conservancy, Suffolk County; 4184 ha (10,338 acres) [Includes Rocky Point State Pine Barrens Preserve; 2428 ha (6000 acres), Brookhaven State Park; 663 ha (1638 acres), and David A. Sarnoff Pine Barrens State Forest; 1093 ha (2700 acres)]

© Steve Young

Connetquot River State Park Preserve

Town of Islip, New York (southern Long Island), Coastal Plain. Submitted by Steve Young, New York Natural Heritage Botanist, retired

This park was recently hit by southern pine beetle which damaged a large part of its pitch pine communities, but it still remains one of the most beautiful parks on Long Island. It’s natural communities and crystal-clear freshwater streams have been preserved for over a century, first as a hunting club and then as a state park. The forests of pitch pine oak and pitch pine-oak-heath woodland are interspersed with wetlands of red maple-blackgum swamp, red maple-hardwood swamp, and pine barrens shrub swamp that harbor an unusual assemblage of rare plants. The beautiful and varied landscape can be seen from over 50 miles of hiking and nature trails. The Long Island Interpretive Center is here and home to the Regional Environmental Education Team of environmental educators that make arrangements for interpretive programs for schools, youth organizations and special interest groups.

New York State Parks; 1406 ha (3473 acres)

© Steve Young

Gateway National Recreation Area Jamaica Bay Unit

Boroughs of Queens, Brooklyn, New York (southern Long Island), Coastal Plain. Submitted by Steve Young, New York Natural Heritage Botanist, retired

The Jamaica Bay Unit of the Gateway National recreation area is in Brooklyn and Queens, New York City, and includes the subunits of Bergen Beach, Breezy Point, Canarsie Peer, Floyd Bennett Field, Fort Tilden, Frank M. Charles Memorial Park, Jacob Riis Park, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, and Plumb Beach. The subunits are arranged around Jamaica Bay and along the south shore beaches, each with its own cultural and natural history and recreation offerings. The shorelines and back bays of the barrier beaches feature extensive areas of low and high saltmarsh with some marine back-barrier lagoons. The area from Breezy Point to Fort Tilden beach has extensive dunes and interdunal swales that can be viewed from the beach or a few hiking trails. Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge along Cross Bay Boulevard has a visitor center and trails through the maritime vegetation. Floyd Bennett Field has extensive successional maritime grassland and is a good place to start your visit to the recreation area at the Ryan Visitor Center.

National Park Service; 7689 ha (19,000 acres)

© Steve Young

Hither Hills/Napeague State Parks

Town of East Hampton, New York (southern Long Island), Coastal Plain. Submitted by Steve Young, New York Natural Heritage Botanist, retired

There are two additional state parks on the Montauk Peninsula, west of the village of Montauk, that feature a wide variety of coastal ecological communities that are accessible to the public. Hither Hills State Park and Napeague State Park feature a campground and trails that span the peninsula from the beaches and dunes of the Atlantic Ocean's south shore to the north shore along the Peconic Bay where beaches are more gravelly and the waves more subdued. The dunes of the south shore, called the Walking Dunes, are the highest in New York. In between the two shorelines there is a mosaic of forested habitats of coastal oak heath forest, coastal oak hickory forest, maritime pitch pine dune woodland, and maritime oak forest and open habitats including the dry maritime grasslands and the wetlands of brackish meadow, high and low saltmarsh, maritime freshwater interdunal swales, and salt shrub. It would take many days to explore all the incredibly diverse maritime habitats here.

New York State Parks; 1266 ha (3129 acres)

© Steve Young

Jones Beach State Park

Nassau County, New York (southern Long Island), Coastal Plain. Submitted by Steve Young, New York Natural Heritage Botanist, retired

Jones Beach State Park is one of the most popular state parks in New York where millions of people flock to the beaches from the New York City area every year. It also supports some of the best natural beach communities in the state that are readily accessible from its very large parking areas. Even though millions of people visit each year, there are stretches of beach where hardly anyone goes, especially on the West End where you can see exemplary examples of maritime beach and dunes, maritime shrubland and extensive brackish interdunal swales. Some of the beaches are preserved for nesting shorebirds that also preserve intact beach vegetation including the rare seabeach amaranth and seabeach knotweed. The West End 2 parking field is also home to the Jones Beach Energy and Nature Center with nature programs throughout the year.

New York State Parks; 977 ha (2413 acres)

© Steve Young

Long Pond Greenbelt

Hamlet of Bridgehampton and Village of Sag Harbor, New York (southern Long Island), Coastal Plain. Submitted by Steve Young, New York Natural Heritage Botanist, retired

There are many miles of walking trails crisscrossing the Long Pond Greenbelt from the village of Sag Harbor south to Sagg Pond on the Atlantic Ocean. The Long Pond Greenbelt Nature Center or the South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center, both on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, are good places to start a walk through coastal oak-heath forest and pitch pine-oak forests to visit the numerous coastal plain ponds and coastal plain pond shores where you can see an incredible diversity of plants depending on the water levels in any given year. It is one of New York's most environmentally significant areas because of the number of rare plants, animals, and rare ecological communities present.

The Nature Conservancy/Suffolk County; 243 ha (600 acres)

© Steve Young

Mashomack Preserve

Town of Shelter Island, New York (southern Long Island), Coastal Plain. Submitted by Steve Young, New York Natural Heritage Botanist, retired

The Mashomack Preserve on Shelter Island (you need to take a short ferry to get there) was once a hunt and gun club and later protected as a nature preserve by The Nature Conservancy. It is open from dawn to dusk seven days a week, but the trails (seven in all) are only opened on weekends in January. You can learn more about the preserve when you visit their nature center featuring exhibits about the plant and animal life there. You can walk through beautiful woodlands of coastal oak-beach and coastal oak-hickory forest as well as maritime oak forest and successional maritime forest. The areas close to the shoreline feature high and low saltmarsh, a rare saltwater tidal creek, and extensive beaches along the Peconic Bay. The diverse natural communities result in a wide variety of birds, animals, and plants to see.

The Nature Conservancy; 951 ha (2350 acres)

© Steve Young

Montauk Point State Park

Hamlet of Montauk, New York (southern Long Island), Coastal Plain. Submitted by Steve Young, New York Natural Heritage Botanist, retired

Montauk Point State Park, nicknamed ‘The Living End’, is the easternmost part of Long Island and New York State. There are many public walking, skiing and equestrian trails that take you through coastal oak-holly forest, maritime shrubland, and successional maritime forest down to the gently sloping maritime beach on the north side. The south side and the Point feature a maritime bluff where the nation’s oldest lighthouse stands, commissioned in 1792 by George Washington. At low tide there are extensive areas of maritime rocky intertidal habitat with a diversity of marine algae and other rock-loving organisms. The interior of the forest also features small coastal plain ponds and to the northwest of the Point there is Oyster Pond, a large coastal salt pond.

New York State Parks; 349 ha (862 acres)

© Steve Young

Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge

Hamlet of Shirley, New York (southern Long Island), Coastal Plain. Submitted by Steve Young, New York Natural Heritage Botanist, retired

Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge is near the village of Shirley on the south shore of Long Island. It offers more than 6 miles of hiking trails and is one of the best places for paddling on Long Island where the beautiful Carmens River empties into Bellport Bay. The best place to start is the refuge's new welcome center on Smith Road south of the Sunrise Highway where there are educational exhibits to orient you to the refuge. There is pitch pine-oak forest, pitch pine-oak-heath forest and red maple-blackgum forest along the trails that open to extensive high and low saltmarsh and brackish tidal marsh along the river near the bay.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 1012 ha (2550 acres)

© Steve Young

Bender Mountain Preserve

Hamilton County, Ohio (southern), Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Rick Gardner and Andrew Gibson; Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Botanists

Bender Mountain Preserve features one of the richest spring wildflower displays in southwestern Ohio. The preserve is located on a steep ridge overlooking the Ohio River. Ordovician-aged limestone and shales are the geologic base of the site that has Western Mesophytic Forests occurring on the slopes. The spring flora includes Isopyrum (Enemion biternatum), Trout Lily (Erythronium spp.), Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum spp.), Bent White Trillium (Trillium flexipes), and the uncommon Eastern Blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia verna). Noteworthy species for this region include Nodding Onion (Allium cernuum) and Yellow Passionflower (Passiflora lutea).

Delhi Township and the Western Wildlife Corridor; over 20 hectares (50 acres)

Chaparral Prairie State Nature Preserve

Adams County, Ohio (southern), Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Rick Gardner and Andrew Gibson; Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Botanists

Chaparral Prairie State Nature Preserve is an outstanding example of a post oak opening habitat. This globally rare ecosystem supports dozens of state-listed rare species. The open xeric habitat is dotted with post and blackjack oaks as well as scattered red cedar trees. Prairie species such as Prairie-dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum), Florist’s Gayfeather (Liatris spicata), and Northern Rattlesnake-master (Eryngium yuccifolium var. yuccifolium) are especially common at Chaparral. Other rare plants include Green Antelope-horn (Asclepias viridis), Prairie False Indigo (Baptisia lactea), Pink Milkwort (Polygala incarnata), and Prairie Bluehearts (Buchnera americana). With its abundance of summer wildflowers, Chaparral Prairie has an excellent diversity of butterflies and moths. Several rarities such as Edward’s hairstreak, olive hairstreak, and unexpected Cycnia moth have been observed in the preserve. The best times to visit Chaparral Prairie are June through August with the latter half of July usually being peak. The preserve has a trail system that takes you through the best parts of the site.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources; 53 hectares (130 acres)

© Josh Deemer

Edge of Appalachia Preserve System (note portions of this system are also in the mountain province)

Adams County, Ohio (southern), Interior Low Plateau. Submitted by Rick Gardner and Andrew Gibson; Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Botanists

The 20,000-acre Richard and Lucile Durrell Edge of Appalachia Preserve System, the largest private preserve in Ohio, is located along the Portsmouth Escarpment where six geological bedrock layers from limestone in the valleys to sandstone on the hilltops are present within a square mile, setting the stage for a wide variety of plant and animal life. Over 50 percent of Ohio’s native flora occurs in the preserve system. The most prominent geologic layer is Peebles Dolomite creating steep bluffs, cliffs and the main bedrock for nearly one hundred cedar barrens. These cedar barrens can have one hundred native species of plants in a single opening. Some of these openings have calcareous seeps and springs with Crawe’s Sedge (Carex crawei), Carex viridistellata, Flattened Spikerush (Eleocharis compressa var. compressa) and Hidden Spikemoss (Selaginella eclipse). Lynx Prairie Preserve has several trails that take you through some of the most diverse cedar barrens in Ohio that includes these seeps plus prairie species such as Glade Milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora), Juniper Sedge (Carex juniperorum), Leavenworthia uniflora, Scaly Blazing-star (Liatris squarrosa var. squarrosa), Southern Obedient-plant (Physostegia virginiana ssp. premoena), and Southern Black Haw (Viburnum rufidulum). Other trail systems include a trail to the rock promontory, Buzzardroost Rock; Cedar Falls, Portman, and The Wilderness.

The Nature Conservancy; over 8,094 hectares (20,000 acres)

Fort Hill State Memorial

Highland County, Ohio (southern), Mountains. Submitted by Rick Gardner and Andrew Gibson; Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Botanists

Fort Hill State Memorial is home to one of the largest and finest remaining old growth forests left in the Midwest. It also protects some of the best-preserved Hopewell Culture earthworks as well. Fort Hill resides in the Illinoian Tillplain near the edge of three ecoregions. Its hilly terrain contains an impressive diversity of flora, fauna, and geology. A number of forest types occur at the site including mature mixed mesophytic, oak-hickory, beech-maple, and riparian. Fort Hill also contains a dolostone gorge with dramatic rock exposures and rare-unusual plant species such as Canada Yew (Taxus canadensis), Wherry’s catchfly (Silene caroliniana var. wherryi) and Sullivantia (Sullivantia sullivantii). The spring ephemeral display at Fort Hill is exquisite with numerous species carpeting the ground. There are a number of trails to botanize at Fort Hill.

Ohio State Parks; 526 hectares (1300 acres)

Hocking Hills State Forest

Hocking County, Ohio (southern), Mountains. Submitted by Rick Gardner and Andrew Gibson; Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Botanists

The Hocking Hills region of southeastern Ohio is famed for its deep gorges, towering cliff faces, beautiful waterfalls, and unrivaled rock formations in the Blackhand Sandstone. The cool, shaded hollows and gorges are home to impressive hemlock-hardwood forests complete with impressive spring wildflower displays. Wildflowers such as Red Trillium (Trillium erectum var. erectum), Pink Lady's-slipper (Cypripedium acaule), Dwarf Ginseng (Nanopanax trifolius), and Meehania (Meehania cordata) are local highlights and curiosities. The Hocking Hills also boasts one of, if not the highest diversity of ferns in the state. 30+ species occur including some regional/state rarities such as Narrow Triangle Moonwort (Botrychium angustisegmentum), Appalachian Shoestring Fern (Vittaria appalachiana), and Northern Beech Fern (Phegopteris connectilis). The Hocking Hills region also has nice representations of upland oak-hickory and oak-pine communities with some locally significant examples of chestnut oak and pitch pine.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources; 3972 hectares (9815 acres)

© Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Lake Hope State Park and Zaleski State Forest

Vinton and Athens County, Ohio (southern), Mountains. Submitted by Rick Gardner and Andrew Gibson; Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Botanists

Lake Hope State Park is nearly 3,000 acres in size and resides within the much larger acreage of Zaleski State Forest. The region has rugged topography with steep ravines and narrow ridges on the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau. Most of the region supports an impressive second growth oak-hickory forest. The impounded Lake Hope and nearby slow-moving Raccoon Creek provided plenty of wetland habitat and river birch/maple floodplain forest. This area of the state is famed for its spring salamander migrations. The spring wildflower show is impressive in areas with the overall rare Showy Skullcap (Scutellaria serrata) being locally common. Lake Hope and Zaleski State Forest also boast a nice diversity of wild orchids with species like Large Yellow Lady's-slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens), Purple Fringeless Orchid (Platanthera peramoena), Showy Orchis (Galearis spectabilis) and Green Adder's-mouth (Malaxis unifolia) present.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources; 12,466 hectares (30,805 acres) is combined area

Lake Katharine State Nature Preserve

Jackson County, Ohio (southern), Mountains. Submitted by Rick Gardner and Andrew Gibson; Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Botanists

The over 2,000-acre Lake Katharine State Nature Preserve boasts the highest pteridophyte flora in Ohio with numerous lycophytes as well. The Sharon Conglomerate sandstone cliffs, rockshelters, and boulders provide habitat for amazing bryophyte flora too. The preserve is most famous for the state’s largest population of the state endangered Magnolia macrophylla, which is only known from a very small area in Jackson County. Other Ohio rarities include Umbo Sedge (Carex lupuliformis), Pineland Hedge-hyssop (Gratiola hispida), Umbrella Magnolia (Magnolia tripetala), and Running Buffalo-clover (Trifolium stoloniferum). Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is common in the numerous steep sandstone ravines with oak-pine and oak-hickory forests on the ridgetops. The seven-mile trail system provides access to all of the different habitats within the preserve.

© Andrew Gibson

Shawnee State Forest and Park

Scioto County, Ohio (southern), Mountains. Submitted by Rick Gardner and Andrew Gibson; Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Botanists

Over 65,000 acres in size, Shawnee State Forest is the largest of Ohio’s state forests. Within the forest, nearly 8,000 acres have been designated as wilderness. Also known as “The Little Smokies of Ohio”, some of the greatest botanical diversity can be found within Shawnee. Numerous plant species from the southern Appalachians just barely make it across the Ohio River into Shawnee. Several dozen state-listed rare plants are known to occur including a number that are known to occur nowhere else in the state such as Spotted Mandarin (Prosartes maculata), Whorled Horsebalm (Collinsonia verticillata), Creeping Aster (Eurybia surculosa), and Gall-of-the-earth (Nabalus trifoliatus). The rolling hills and steep valleys are home to a variety of forest types from oak-hickory in the uplands to mixed mesophytic on the lower slopes and even some hemlock-dominated gorges. Few places ring in spring as nice as Shawnee with a diversity of bloomers such as large-flowered trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), dwarf crested iris (Iris cristata), and Pink Lady's-slipper (Cypripedium acaule). Unlike many other forests areas, Shawnee has fantastic botany during the summer and fall months with the roadsides and power line cuts ensconced in rare-unusual species such as White Milkweed (Asclepias variegata), Striped Gentian (Gentiana villosa), and Yellow Fringed Orchid (Platanthera ciliaris). Roadside and trailside botany opportunities abound here. The 1,085-acre Shawnee State Park is nestled within the state forest and provides hiking trails, campgrounds and a lodge.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources; over 26,300 hectares (65,000 acres) is combined area

Allegheny National Forest: Hearts Content

Warren County, Pennsylvania, Glaciated. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

Hearts Content National Scenic Area is a tract of old-growth forest in Warren County, northwestern Pennsylvania. It represents one of the few remaining old-growth forests in the northeastern United States that contain white pine. The area is protected as a National Scenic Area.

U.S. Forest Service; 49 hectares (120 acres)

© Jacki Braund

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Monroe and Pike County, Pennsylvania, Glaciated. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

This National Recreation Area, centered on the Delaware River in eastern Pike and Monroe Counties, provides opportunity to botanize a suite of habitats with interesting plants, including riverscour, floodplains, woodlands, barrens, steep shale slopes, and vertical cliffs. Waterfalls associated with drainages to the River create microclimates for a different suite of species. The many trails maintained by the National Park Service facilitate access to these different habitats.

National Park Service; 27,009 hectares (66,741 acres)

© Rachel Goad

Devil’s Elbow Natural Area, Loyalsock State Forest

Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, Glaciated. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

A flat hiking trail through hemlock-mixed hardwood upland forest with pockets of palustrine forest and Sphagnum-dominated, cotton-grass poor fen communities. This is an easy, spectacular hike in early autumn when the leaves begin to change color.

Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry; 46,358 hectares (114,552 acres)

© Scott Schuette

Erie Bluffs State Park

Erie County, Pennsylvania, Glaciated. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

One of the best remaining natural areas in the Pennsylvania portion of the shore of Lake Erie, this state park includes an ancient sand dune with a black oak-lupine barrens community, lakeplain swamp forests, and cliffs, bluffs, and beaches. It also has open, post-agricultural areas undergoing restoration. Numerous trails traverse the park including the recommended Wildflower Way trail.

Bucks County Parks; 238 hectares (587 acres)

© Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Lake Pleasant

Erie County, Pennsylvania, Glaciated. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

A natural glacial lake with a diversity of submerged and emergent vascular plants. This is the only natural lake in Pennsylvania that has not been invaded by Eurasian watermilfoil, so please take care not to inadvertently introduce plants or animals. Accessible either from the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy's Lake Pleasant Conservation Area preserve on the west site, or the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat parking lot on the east side of the lake. No motorized recreation.

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy; 26 hectares (64 acres)

© Steve Grund

Long Pond Nature Preserve

Monroe County, Pennsylvania, Glaciated. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

Much of the 12,000 acres of bogs, swamps, mesic glacial till barrens, scrub oak-heath barrens, boreal forest, and northern hardwood forest is open to the public and under management by The Nature Conservancy. One of the largest concentrations of globally rare species in Pennsylvania.

The Nature Conservancy and the Pennsylvania Game Commission; Ca. 4856 hectares (12,000 acres)

© Betsy Leppo

Presque Isle State Park

Erie County, Pennsylvania, Glaciated. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

A large sand spit jutting into Lake Erie. Many plant species of Great Lakes affinity can be seen in Pennsylvania only here. Some of those are also at Erie Bluffs, but Presque Isle hosts the only significant active sand dunes in Pennsylvania. Dead Pond Trail is a good one for dune flora. This is a popular park, with the advantages and disadvantages typically attached, i.e. good trails, easy access, park amenities, but also a lot of people.

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources; 1259 hectares (3112 acres)

© Ephraim Zimmerman

Rock Point, Wild Waterways Conservancy

Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, Glaciated. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

This property features steep sandstone cliffs rise above Connoquenessing Creek and several abrupt changes in the gradient of the creek resulting in white water rapids. Evidence of glaciation can be seen by the presence of granite boulders transported from off site. A diverse rich sugar maple beech forest community provides habitat for spring wildflowers including Common Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) Sharp-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba), Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), American Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum var. americanum), and one of the most magnificent displays of Large-flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) in Western Pennsylvania. Several large vernal pools are also present.

Wild Waterways Conservancy; 40 hectares (100 acres)

© Jessica McPherson

Wolf Creek Narrows Natural Area/Miller Woods Nature Preserve

Butler County, Pennsylvania, Glaciated. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

These adjoining protected areas have rich mesic soils that allows an abundance of herbaceous plants and associated animal life. Significant natural habitats on the current Wolf Creek floodplain include emergent wetlands, remnant oxbow ponds, and vernal pools that resulted from flooding and a change in Wolf Creek’s channel. This site is widely known for its beautiful wildflower display in April and May. Whereas Wolf Creek Narrows is blanketed in spring with Large-flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), Miller Woods’ sandy creek-side soil exhibits showy Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) and other wildflowers. There are trails on both properties.

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy & Slippery Rock University; 115 hectares (285 acres)

© Jessica McPherson

Algerine Swamp Natural Area (National Natural Landmark), Tioga State Forest

Tioga County, Pennsylvania, Mountains. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

This National Natural Landmark provides an example of boreal conifer swamp with a mosaic of Sphagnum-dominated, cotton-grass poor fen openings and several small stream channels surrounded by northern hardwood forest. The bog is prime habitat for Black Spruce (Picea mariana), Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea), and other northern plant species. There are no formal trails or boardwalk.

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources; 34 hectares (84 acres)

© Betsy Leppo

Black Moshannon State Park

Centre County, Pennsylvania, Mountains. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

This site includes a large wetland complex around a blackwater reservoir. Located in a cold air drainage, there are many historic records of northern species. The historic peatland complex has been modified by damming, timbering, and fire, but interesting remnants are still present. Trails of easy to moderate difficulty, including a boardwalk through wetlands; canoe rentals available in season.

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources; 1408 hectares (3480 acres)

© Pete Woods

Canoe Creek State Park, Hartman Trail

Blair County, Pennsylvania, Mountains. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

This trail provides access to one of the best examples of Ridge and Valley calcareous forests and woodlands on public land in Pennsylvania. There is a partially naturally open steep slope at the edge of a small abandoned limestone quarry that hosts many interesting specialists that can handle high pH and thin, dry soils, but are not good at competing with trees for light. Some of the forested slopes are rich and mesic. Small streams provide a variety of aspects, increasing habitat diversity, and therefore plant diversity.

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources; 389 hectares (961 acres)

© Jessica McPherson

Cedar Creek County Park, Gorge Trail

Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Mountains. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

Cedar Creek Gorge is the steep-sided valley at the mouth of Cedar Creek where it meets the Youghiogheny River. The site includes rich floodplain forests, outcrops, and woodlands. Calcareous geology influences parts of the site and adds to the richness of the flora. There is also a tufa formation at the site. Trails are well-maintained at this county park.

Westmoreland County Parks; 194 hectares (479 acres)

© Pete Woods

Dead Man's Hollow Conservation Area

Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Mountains. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

Dead Man's Hollow features a few small streams cutting deep valleys into the sandstone. This creates different aspects and consequently hosts high floral diversity in areas with mature forest. The richness of the site is probably partly due to the limestone bedrock above the site. There are well maintained easy-to-moderate trails that can be accessed from parking lots. The site can also be accessed from the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail which runs along the Youghiogheny River at the east edge of this site.

Allegheny Land Trust; 182 hectares (450 acres)

© Jessica McPherson

Duff Park, Westmoreland County Park

Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Mountains. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

Duff Park features vernal wildflowers, with nearby parking and easy to moderate trails. This is an unusually rich and intact forest for being within a large metropolitan area. Influence from the Monongahela limestone is one of the drivers of plant diversity here.

Westmoreland County Parks; 89 hectares (220 acres)

© Pete Woods

Enlow Fork Natural Area

Greene and Washington Counties, Pennsylvania, Mountains. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

This site is located within State Game Lands 302 and features forests, woodlands, and openings, some over calcareous soil. Renowned as a wildflower location, its plant diversity includes many southern species found only in the southwest portion of the state.

Pennsylvania Game Commission; 1198 hectares (2961 acres)

© Jessica McPherson

Forbes State Forest: Spruce Flats Bog

Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Mountains. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

This site features a high-elevation acidic wetland with sphagnum, classic bog species, and windswept krummholz scenery. The site was somewhat altered by past management and Atlantic white cedar was introduced to the site long ago. The bog trail has parking and is fully accessible (flat, graded, no steps) with a boardwalk provided to view bog.

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources; 23,876 hectares (59,000 acres)

© Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Indian Creek Valley Trail, Mill Run Parking Area

Fayette County, Pennsylvania, Mountains. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

A floodplain and lower slope forest along Indian Creek, and exemplary Laurel Highlands rich forests. Because the trail is a wide abandoned railway, this is a good site to show groups a spectacular display of spring wildflowers. Indian Creek itself is difficult to access because the lower valley is very steep, but it is a boulder-strewn high energy stream much like the Youghiogheny River (which it empties into) but without all the rafts and kayaks.

Bucks County Parks; 97 hectares (240 acres)

© Scott Schuette

Jennings Environmental Education Center

Butler County, Pennsylvania, Mountains. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

This site features Jennings Blazing Star Prairie which is considered by many to be an eastern extension of the prairie peninsula. It is named both for Otto Jennings, and early promoter of native plant conservation in western Pennsylvania, and for one of its many showy prairie wildflowers. The site is part of the Pennsylvania State Park system, and has nice trails and a Nature Center. The prairie has been managed for decades using controlled burns.

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources; 121+ hectares (300+ acres)

© Pete Woods

Linn Run State Park

Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Mountains. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

This park features mature, intact forest around Linn Run, a high-gradient stream. With significant elevation range along the slope of Laurel Ridge, communities range from rich lowland floodplain and cove to dry ridgetop forests. A high elevation wetland, Spruce Flats Bog, is nearby on adjacent State Forest land. Accessibility ranges from parking-area observation points to steep and rugged trails. The 4-mile loop Grove Run Trail is steep in places but recommended.

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources; 248 hectares (612 acres)

© Jessica McPherson

Mason Dixon Park

Greene County, Pennsylvania, Mountains. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

This park may have the best example of mixed mesophytic forest in Pennsylvania, with a high diversity of plants, many of them calcicoles. Enter the developed portion of the park in West Virginia and cross into Pennsylvania where the forested slopes are intact.

Monongalia County Parks; 119 hectares (295 acres)

© Robert Coxe

McConnell’s Mills State Park

Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, Mountains. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

This site includes an approximately four-mile stretch of Slippery Rock Creek. The steep slopes along Slippery Rock Creek are largely forested and have examples of a Pennsylvania rare hemlock/tuliptree/yellow birch type akin to forest types in the central and southern Appalachian Mountains. There are multiple waterfalls, scour zones, and cool forested slopes along a rugged section of the 6.2 mile Slippery Rock Gorge Trail from Hell's Hollow to Walnut Flats deep in the gorge via the North Country National Scenic Trail.

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources; 1030 hectares (2546 acres)

© Scott Schuette

Ohiopyle State Park

Fayette County, Pennsylvania, Mountains. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

A large state park embedded in a particularly intact portion of the state, the Laurel Highlands. Botanical and ecological features are many and varied; includes the Youghiogheny River Gorge and associated scour habitats, steep tributary valleys with rich floodplain and cove forests, and acidic upper slope / ridgetop forests. Ferncliff Peninsula, Cucumber falls, and Jonathan Run are particularly rich botanical destinations. Great Gorge Trail is one of the best vernal wildflower sites in Pennsylvania. Many southern Appalachian endemics reach the northern limit of their range here. A range of accessibility, from parking lot observation areas, to rails-to-trails (the Great Allegheny Passage), to moderate and difficult hiking trails.

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources; 8296 hectares (20,500 acres)

© Steve Grund

Pine Creek Canyon, Leonard Harrison & Colton Point State Parks

Tioga County, Pennsylvania, Mountains. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

The Leonard Harrison and Colton Point State Parks are centered around Pine Creek Gorge, a steep-sided valley around Pine Creek also known as the "Pennsylvania Grand Canyon." The gorge cuts through several geological layers, exposing calcareous geology in some areas. The calciphiles present are uncommon in the region and distinct from those found in the Ridge and Valley calcareous sites. The gorge includes a typical elevation range of hardwood forests, as well as interesting outcrops, barrens, and cliffs. The parks are located on the east and west rims of the canyon, with trails leading to the bottom of the canyon to the rail-to-trail. Trail difficulty ranges from fully accessible overlooks and the 65 mile Pine Creek rail-to-trail to steep, rocky terrain ascending the canyon.

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources; 385 hectares (951 acres) (total is area of both parks combined)

© Betsy Leppo

Raccoon Creek State Park

Beaver County, Pennsylvania, Mountains. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

This park has mature forest with exceptional spring flora. High pH soils in many areas of Raccoon Creek State Park lead to high diversity in floodplain and lower slope communities. This park contains the Raccoon Creek Wildflower Reserve which has a long history as a favorite botanizing site for people like Otto Jennings, early Curator of Botany at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. The site is now part of Raccoon Creek State park. There are good trails, limestone outcrops, nice floodplain habitat and rich slopes.

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources; 3064 hectares (7572 acres)

© Pete Woods

Ricketts Glen State Park

Luzerne, Sullivan, and Columbia Counties, Pennsylvania, Mountains. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

This State Park features a deep gorge and associated ravines along Kitchen Creek. Numerous rare and interesting species are visible in the forests, cliffs, and waterfalls along this trail, but be aware that it is steep and can be heavily visited. The surrounding complex of wet forests, heathy grasslands, and lakes provide additional opportunities for botanizing.

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources; 5,339 hectares (13,193 acres)

© Rachel Goad

Ryerson Station State Park

Greene County, Pennsylvania, Mountains. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

This State Park is centered around the former Ryerson Lake (a recreational reservoir now drained due to longwall mining impacts). Forests of varying maturity; early successional areas tend to be low quality and highly invaded, while more mature areas have examples of mesophytic forests with floristic elements found only in the far SW portion of the state. Kent Run is a particularly rich area. Stream valleys may be impacted by an impending legacy sediment restoration project.

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources; 471 hectares (1164 acres)

© Pete Woods

Scotia Barrens (State Game Lands 176)

Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Mountains. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

This is a large area within State Game Lands 176 notable for its distinctive pitch pine - scrub oak barren and vernal pond communities. Shaped by a history of native American management, 19th century iron mining, extreme frost pocket conditions, and sandy, occasionally calcareous Morrison soils, many unique barrens species are known from the area. Invasive species are problematic in some areas, and fire suppression has diminished the barrens openings from their previous extent, but controlled burns have recently been reinstated in some areas. There are game lands roads and informal trail development.

Pennsylvania Game Commission; 263 hectares (6500 acres)

© Jessica McPherson

Sideling Hill Creek Conservation Area

Fulton County, Pennsylvania, Mountains. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

This is the site in Pennsylvania that comes closest to the character of the huge shale barrens along the Potomac River and other streams to our south. Most of the characteristic shale barren species can be found here, but it takes some adventure to get to them since there are no trails and the terrain is steep. Please use caution!

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy; ca. 152 hectares (ca. 375 acres)

© Pete Woods

Spring Creek Canyon, from Fishermans Paradise / Gamelands 333

Centre County, Pennsylvania, Mountains. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

This is a stream valley cut through calcareous geology, with many steep slopes and small coves and tributaries. Although maturity and quality of the forest is patchy due to varied land use history, it includes some of the best remaining examples in Pennsylvania of calcareous natural communities, ranging from rich floodplains, to slope forests, to dry summit openings. Parking and fully accessible trail are available along Spring Creek with little trail development outside of that.

Pennsylvania Game Commission; 490 hectares (1210 acres)

© Steve Grund

Tannersville Cranberry Bog, The Nature Conservancy

Monroe County, Pennsylvania, Mountains. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

The Nature Conservancy’s Tannersville Cranberry Bog Preserve protects the southernmost low-elevation boreal bog on the eastern seaboard. A complex of wetland plant communities can be found at the preserve including Red Maple - Black-gum Palustrine Forest, Black Spruce - Tamarack Peatland Forest, and Leatherleaf - Bog Rosemary Bog. Numerous bog and wetland plant species can be found across the preserve’s variety of unique habitats. The preserve has a small parking lot and two public access trails. There is also a wetland boardwalk trail, which is only accessible during guided tours.

Bucks County Parks; 405 hectares (1000 acres)

© Mike Serfas

Trillium Trail

Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Mountains. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

Trillium Trail was named for the impressive display of Large-flowered Trillium (Trillium grandifolium), which all but disappeared by the early 1990s due to browsing by a large population of deer. Exclosures were erected, leading not only to a recovery of the trillium population, but also of a large number of other spring wildflowers. Ultimately, the Fox Chapel Parks Commission erected a deer exclosure around a large portion of the park. There is parking and trails of easy to moderate difficulty. Dogs are not allowed.

Fox Chapel Parks; ca. 200 hectares (491 acres) – mostly contiguous

Public Domain

Yellow Creek State Park

Indiana County, Pennsylvania, Mountains. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

This site includes typical Western Allegheny Plateau - Low Plateau forest and wetlands of varying maturity surrounding Yellow Creek reservoir. Regionally uncommon species like Shingle Oak (Quercus imbricaria) and Creeping Phlox (Phlox stolonifera) are present. The Damsite Trail traverses some of the more mature and intact forested areas with nice spring flora. There is a nice example of mature oak - mixed hardwood palustrine forest near the Yellow Creek State Park beach/picnic area. Accessibility ranges from parking lot observation areas to trails of moderate difficulty.

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources; 1206 hectares (2981 acres)

© Jessica McPherson

Delhaas Woods

Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Piedmont. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

Part of the Silver Lake Nature Center, this 240 acre county park is one of the few natural areas that remain in Pennsylvania's Coastal Plain. It features a diverse wet grassland in a powerline right-of-way flanked by mature sweetgum–willow oak palustrine forest.

Bucks County Parks; 97 hectares (240 acres)

© Claire Ciafre

Ferncliff Wildflower & Wildlife Preserve

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Piedmont. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

This forested, steep-sided narrow valley features a cascading stream, large rock exposures, and a rich spring wildflower display. The deeper portion of the ravine is dominated by hemlock-tuliptree-birch forest. The landscape drops off abruptly towards the Susquehanna River, forming a ridgeline of steep bluffs overlooking the river. An easy to moderate trail follows the stream before climbing the ravine to a spectacular overlook.

Lancaster Conservancy: 26 hectares (65 acres)

© Nicholas A. Tonelli

Gifford Pinchot State Park, Alpine Trail

York County, Pennsylvania, Piedmont. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

Diabase-underlain forests and meadows support a diverse and interesting suite of species surrounding a man-made reservoir. Trails and boating opportunities are available.

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, State Parks; 946 hectares (2,338 acres)

© Betsy Leppo

Goat Hill Serpentine Barrens

Chester County, Pennsylvania, Piedmont. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

This site is a complex of serpentine barren grasslands interspersed with oak and pine woodlands and forests. Unmanaged areas have thick understory of Smilax spp. Many interesting serpentine species are visible along a wide gravel path under the powerline ROW. Smaller trails wind through the property, and will lead you to a network of grassland islands and forested wetlands. Be aware of ticks and chiggers!

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Forestry; 244 hectares (602 acres)

© Rachel Goad

Nottingham County Park

Chester County, Pennsylvania, Piedmont. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

For its natural history and conservation efforts, the National Park Service recognized Nottingham County Park as a National Natural Landmark in 2008 - the only eastern serpentine barren designated by the National Park Service as a National Natural Landmark. Over 500 acres with exceptionally rich ultramafic grassland flora including many species not found elsewhere in the region. Also includes pitch pine-oak forest, woodland, and savanna, with patches of rare serpentine shrub community and serpentine seep community.

Chester County Parks and Preservation; 296 hectares (731 acres)

© Scott Schuette

Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Piedmont. Submitted by Staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Pennsylvania Vascular Plant Technical Committee

This preserve contains a wooded ravine draining to the lower Susquehanna River, long-celebrated for its impressive displays of spring flora. Among the rich diversity of spring wildflowers present, two plant species of concern have been documented from this location. This forested natural landscape functions as an important terrestrial component of the Susquehanna River regional migratory corridor.

Lancaster Conservancy: 37 hectares (92 acres)

© Rachel Goad

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

City of Virginia Beach , Virginia, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

This national wildlife refuge encompasses several miles of beach, dune grasslands, scrub, and interdune wetlands along its eastern side. The western part of the area is dominated by Back Bay and its extensive flanking wind-tidal marshes. Some upland and wetland forest is also present, particularly on the mainland west of Back Bay. Behind the dunes is a series of large waterfowl impoundments that contain many interesting aquatic plants.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 3,542 ha (8,752 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Blackwater Ecological Preserve and Antioch Pines State Natural Area Preserve

Isle of Wight County , Virginia, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

These adjacent natural area preserves are part of a belt of inner Coastal Plain sandhills lying along the east side of the Blackwater River from near Zuni on the north to Walters on the south. Most of the natural vegetation of this area was destroyed long ago. However, many remnant sandhill species were able to persist in the area of these preserves, which are being managed by prescribed fire for the restoration of Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) woodlands. In addition to an array of sand-loving xerophytic plants associated with the sandhills, the preserve contains impressive old-age stands of Coastal Plain bottomland hardwoods and Baldcypress-tupelo swamps in the broad floodplain along the Blackwater.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation; 541 ha (1,336 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

Accomack County , Virginia, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is located at the southern end of Assateague Island and contains maritime vegetation and flora representative of the mid-Atlantic region stretching from the Chesapeake Bay to New Jersey. Much of the area has been disturbed and altered by humans, but outstanding natural areas can be found in the northern part of the site, along the high dunes on the Bay side and in the southern part of the site near the Hook, which has extensive and dynamic overwash habitats. A full cross section of natural vegetation is present, from dune communities and maritime forests to salt marshes.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 5,510 ha (136,15 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Chub Sandhill State Natural Area Preserve

Sussex County , Virginia, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

Chub Sandhill Natural Area Preserve contains one of Virginia’s northernmost sandhills, located along the east side of the Nottoway River. Despite sand quarrying and silvicultural conversion, several rare sandhill species have persisted in this area, which is being managed by prescribed fire for the restoration of Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) woodlands. Sand-loving plants are prevalent on the uplands, while the old quarry pits support many wetland and draw-down species. The preserve also includes some 7 km (4.5 mi) of river frontage and associated bottomland forests and flora.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation; 431 ha (1,066 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Crows Nest State Natural Area Preserve

Stafford County , Virginia, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

Crows Nest occupies a high peninsular ridge between Accokeek and Potomac creeks and is representative of steep, stream-dissected inner Coastal Plain landscapes in northern Virginia. Slopes and ravines of various aspects support a variety of forest communities, of which mesic mixed hardwood forest is the most extensive. Most noteworthy is the occurrence of basic mesic forests and dry calcareous forests on ravine slopes that have downcut into Tertiary shells and lime sand; associated with these are numerous calciphilic species uncommon or rare in the Coastal Plain. Much of the forest is impressively mature and is bordered by high-quality freshwater tidal swamps and marshes, located along the two creeks.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation; 1,162 ha (2,872 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Cypress Bridge State Natural Area Preserve

Sussex County , Virginia, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

The Cypress Bridge preserve includes a large stand of 100-year-old bottomland hardwoods but is most notable for a 15-ha (38-acre) stand of Water Tupelo (Nyssa aquatica) and Bald-cypress (Taxodium distichum) that somehow escaped cutting. This stand contains trees that are hundreds of years old and reaching 9 m (30 ft) in circumference, including several current and former national and state champions. Probably no other forest in Virginia more closely resembles its presettlement condition. For much of the year, this area is flooded and can be accessed by canoe or kayak. But the best time to visit is when the habitat is drawn down, in late summer and fall; it is then accessible by foot, and the massive, flaring bases of the trees are fully exposed. Much of the herbaceous flora, and even smaller trees, are rooted on the buttresses of the tupelos, where they can stay above the water level.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation; 154 ha (380 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

False Cape State Park and State Natural Area Preserve

City of Virginia Beach, Virginia, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

State lands at False Cape contain the most extensive representation in Virginia of southern Atlantic maritime vegetation and flora. The roughly 1.6-km-wide (1 mi) barrier peninsula contains a virtually complete cross section of natural communities, from dune grasslands, scrub, woodlands, and wetlands, through maritime forests of Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) and Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda), to maritime swamp forests and wind-tidal marshes bordering Back Bay. Much of the area was disturbed historically but has recovered to form a large and outstanding natural area.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation; 1,556 ha (3,844 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

First Landing State Park

City of Virginia Beach, Virginia, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

First Landing State Park is a large oasis of natural maritime habitats within the highly developed Virginia Beach area. Although it has a small section of beach and dune vegetation, it is most notable for the occurrence of three globally rare natural communities: a dune woodland dominated by Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) and Bluejack Oak (Quercus incana); a maritime swamp forest dominated by Bald-cypress (Taxodium distichum), and an extensive maritime upland forest dominated by a mixture of deciduous trees with some Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda). These communities are endemic to a small region that includes extreme southeastern Virginia and the Outer Banks of northeastern North Carolina. In the southern part of the park, which is more protected from salt spray, a large stand of nonriverine swamp forest occupies the peat-filled hollows of an ancient dune system.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation; 1,099 ha (2,716 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Grafton Ponds State Natural Area Preserve

York County , Virginia, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

This preserve protects a large complex of Coastal Plain seasonal ponds, most of them supporting open woodland vegetation dominated by Swamp Tupelo (Nyssa biflora). The flora is dominated by species tolerant of seasonal flooding and adapted to irregularly fluctuating water levels. The late summer and fall, when the ponds are most likely to be drawn down, are the best times to observe the herbaceous pond flora.

City of Newport News; 152 ha (375 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Cities of Chesapeake and Suffolk , Virginia, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

Despite its large size, the National Wildlife Refuge comprises only a fraction of the former extent of the Great Dismal Swamp, much of which has been ditched, drained, cleared for agriculture, or developed. Thick, shrubby and viny, nonriverine swamp forests, pocosins, and Atlantic White-cedar forests are characteristic of the deeper peat deposits in the heart of the swamp, while nonriverine wet hardwood forests and successional pine-hardwood stands with dense Switch Cane (Arundinaria tecta) understories are prevalent on shallow peats and saturated mineral soils around the edges. Part of the refuge is accessible via roads that follow an old system of canals; travel off-road is extremely difficult, dangerous, and not recommended. Lake Drummond, a 1287-ha (3180-acre) body of water in the interior of the swamp, is one of two natural lakes in Virginia.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 34,436 ha (85,093 acres) in Virginia

© Gary P. Fleming

Northwest River Park

Cities of Chesapeake and Suffolk, Virginia, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

The Northwest River is one of two tributaries of Currituck Sound in the Embayed Region of far southeastern Virginia. Due to the closure of inlets along the Outer Banks, they now lie above the limits of diurnal tidal flooding, but they are subject to frequent wind-tidal variations. Northwest River Park is a municipal facility that contains fine stands of mature upland and nonriverine wet hardwood forests, swamps, wind-tidal marshes, and ruderal vegetation typical of this region. This is a very good site at which to see a wide range of flora of the southern, outer Coastal Plain.

City of Chesapeake; 310 ha (765 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Savage Neck Dunes State Natural Area Preserve

Northampton County , Virginia, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

This state natural area preserve contains the largest dunes on the Chesapeake Bay side of Eastern Shore. On the highest and most xeric portions of these great dunes is a globally rare woodland of widely spaced Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda) over scattered Woolly Beach-Heather (Hudsonia tomentosa) and other drought-tolerant maritime species. Depressions between the dunes are filled with groundwater most of the year and support a variety of wetland species. Reforesting agricultural fields, maritime forest, and a narrow band of dune scrub and grasslands occupy the remainder of the preserve.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation; 121 ha (298 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

York River State Park

James City County , Virginia, Coastal Plain. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

York River State Park is predominantly a steep, stream-dissected inner Coastal Plain landscape. Ridges and ravines bordering the York River and its tributary Taskinas Creek contain a mosaic of forest communities, the most extensive of which is mesic mixed hardwood forest; oak-beech forests with dense evergreen understories of Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) and American Holly (Ilex opaca) occupy many of the sheltered slopes and bluffs. Although the uplands are acidic, swamps in the ravine bottoms are saturated by calcareous groundwater moving through shell deposits and contain many calciphilic plants unusual for the Coastal Plain. Oligohaline and mesohaline tidal marshes line the two major streams.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation; 1,026 ha (2,536 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Blue Ridge Parkway and George Washington National Forest: Apple Orchard Mountain–Thunder Ridge area

Bedford and Botetourt counties , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

Reaching an elevation of 1288 m (4225 ft), Apple Orchard Mountain and Thunder Ridge comprise the highest area of the Northern Blue Ridge. The predominant bedrock of calc-alkaline granites and gneisses has weathered into deep, fertile soils. The prevalent vegetation of the area is a mesophytic montane oak-hickory forest with a luxuriant herb layer that resembles that of a rich cove forest. The higher, convex landforms support Northern Red Oak forests, while steep, boulder-strewn north slopes support northern hardwood forests dominated by gnarled, old-age Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis). Rich cove forests and seepage wetlands occur lower on the flanks in hollows along stream headwaters.

National Park Service AND U.S. Forest Service; about 1,300 ha (3,200 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Blue Ridge Parkway and George Washington National Forest: Humpback Mountain–Laurel Springs Gap area

Augusta and Nelson counties , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

The Humpback Mountain–Laurel Springs Gap area is representative of medium- to high-elevation Northern Blue Ridge sites underlain by Catoctin metabasalt. Base-rich soils weathered from this rock support diverse vegetation, predominantly a mesophytic montane oak-hickory forest. Smaller patches of Northern Red Oak forests, oak/ heath forests, rich cove forests, outcrop barrens, and seepage wetlands are embedded in the oak-hickory matrix. The overall flora is quite species-rich and easily accessible via the Appalachian Trail and other trails.

National Park Service AND U.S. Forest Service; about 800 ha (2,000 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Breaks Interstate Park

Dickenson County , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

Located in Virginia and Kentucky, Breaks Interstate Park features a spectacular sandstone river gorge formed by the passage of Russell Fork through Pine Mountain. Because of its diverse topography, the park contains the full range of typical low- to medium-elevation, acidic montane and riparian vegetation characteristic of this part of the Cumberland Mountains.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation AND Kentucky Department of Parks; 374 ha (946 acres) in Virginia

© Gary P. Fleming

Buffalo Mountain State Natural Area Preserve

Floyd County , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

Buffalo Mountain is a monadnock that rises to an elevation of almost 1200 m (4000 ft)—almost 360 m (1200 ft) higher than the general elevation of the Southern Blue Ridge plateau. Underlain by resistant amphibolite, the mountain harbors complexes of globally rare outcrop barrens on the slopes and globally rare mafic seepage wetlands along stream headwaters at the lower elevations. Several montane forest communities cover the remainder of the area.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation; 461 ha (1,140 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Cleveland Barrens State Natural Area Preserve

Russell County, Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

This natural area preserve features a 3-mile hiking trail from the foot of Tank Hollow Falls near the town of Cleveland. Underlain by limestone and dolomite, this trail winds through a variety of calciphilic habitats with a rich, native flora. Portions of the area are steep and shady with lush cove forests while other areas are much drier featuring woodlands with heliophytic vegetation.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation; 521 ha (1,287 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area

Smyth, Washington, Russell, and Tazewell counties , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

This expansive wildlife management area contains nearly the full range of low- to high-elevation natural communities and flora characteristic of the long and imposing ridge of Clinch Mountain in southwestern Virginia. Vegetation ranging from rich and acidic cove forests to high-elevation Red Spruce forests, as well as numerous clearings and a lakeshore, offers habitats of a notable array of plant species, native and nonnative. The overall flora has a strong Southern Appalachian flavor.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries; 10,310 ha (25,477 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

Lee County , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

This national park occupies a substantial section of Cumberland Mountain in Virginia and Kentucky. It contains varied Cumberlandian montane forests on both acidic and basic substrates, as well as examples of calcareous woodlands and barrens associated with a midslope band of Greenbrier Limestone.

National Park Service; 3,055 ha (7,550 acres) in Virginia

© Gary P. Fleming

Douthat State Park and Beards Mountain

Bath County , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

This state park and the adjoining national forest lands contain vegetation and flora representative of the Central Appalachian shale region. The low-elevation slopes support large stands of secondary acidic oak-hickory, oak/ heath, and White Pine–oak forest. The higher ridges (especially Beards Mountain) are capped with somewhat richer sandstone and siltstone and support montane oak-hickory forest, including some old-age stands. Special habitats scattered throughout include shale barrens and montane alluvial forests along Wilson Creek.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation AND U.S. Forest Service; 1,840 ha (4,546 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area

Fauquier and Warren counties , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

The Thompson Wildlife Management Area contains a variety of habitats and flora but is notable for containing two of Virginia’s most outstanding natural community occurrences. The upper slopes and summit of the Blue Ridge here support one of our richest montane forests, a mesophytic community with a continual succession of forest wildflowers from early spring through fall and a massive population of Large-flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) estimated at more than 28 million individuals. At the headwaters of Wildcat Hollow, numerous seeps and headwater branches converge to form a 25-acre seepage swamp with base-rich soils and an impressive wetland flora.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries; 1,604 ha (3,963 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

George Washington National Forest: Big Levels–Maple Flats area

Augusta County , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

Big Levels is an imposing, gentle-crested ridge that juts off the western flank of the central Virginia Blue Ridge. Underlain by acidic metasedimentary rocks, the ridge is overwhelmingly vegetated by oak/heath forests and pine-oak/ heath woodlands, broken on the steep flanks by extensive open boulder fields of large-block quartzite. The St. Marys River has cut a high-gradient gorge on the southwest side of the ridge, while, on the gentle summit, sagging of underlying landslide masses has produced Green Pond, a 1-acre natural wetland. At the foot of the ridge are several complexes of Shenandoah Valley sinkhole ponds containing unique vegetation and flora, including numerous rare and disjunct species.

U.S. Forest Service; about 9,000 ha (22,000 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

George Washington National Forest: Blowing Springs Campground area

Bath County , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

This relatively small area of the national forest contains a limestone gorge with diverse, mesic to dry calcareous upland habitats and high-energy riparian habitats along Back Creek. Rich cove forests abound on the lower slopes, grading to dry-mesic and dry calcareous forests on the ridges. A small area of more acidic soils and vegetation occurs at the western end of the site on interbedded sandstone. The overall flora is lush and species-rich.

U.S. Forest Service; about 300 ha (740 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

George Washington National Forest: Elliott Knob

Augusta County , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

At 1360 m (4463 ft), Elliott Knob is the highest mountain in the Virginia portion of the Central Appalachians. The lower slopes support vegetation and flora typical of the Ridge and Valley, but the main attractions are the upper slopes and crest, which harbor large stands of Northern Red Oak forest, northern hardwood forest, and, on the northwest flank, an extensive high-elevation boulder-field forest. A lush flora with higher-elevation and northern affinities is prevalent over most of the area.

U.S. Forest Service; about 1,500 ha (3,700 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

George Washington National Forest: Hidden Valley

Bath County , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

Hidden Valley is a broad limestone river valley with flanking sandstone ridges and tributary hollows. Much of the favorable bottomland has been cleared and farmed extensively; vegetation of the ridges varies from rich cove forest on the lower, limestone slopes to oligotrophic oak/heath forest on the upper, sandstone slopes. This site contains one of the most species-rich floras among national forest sites because of the presence of extensive alluvial and seepage wetlands in the valleys. Fields and other disturbed areas provide habitats for many nonnative plants common to the western Virginia Ridge and Valley region.

U.S. Forest Service; about 600 ha (1,500 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

George Washington National Forest: Laurel Fork area

Highland County , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

The Laurel Fork area is a high-elevation Central Appalachian landscape supporting vegetation and flora with northern affinities. The matrix vegetation on this part of Allegheny Mountain is a second-growth northern hardwood forest, with patches of Red Spruce forest, oak forest, and varied wetlands in environmentally discrete habitats. Rare and unusual plants abound in this federally designated special biological area of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.

U.S. Forest Service; about 4,200 ha (10,400 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

George Washington National Forest: South Sister Knob area

Bath County , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

The South Sister Knob area of Shenandoah Mountain is well known for several large shale barrens, representing the rare shale-ridge–prairie variant that occurs on more stable slopes and crests. But the Shenandoah Mountain Trail in this area also passes through a variety of typical Central Appalachian oak/heath, mixed oak, White Pine– oak, and montane oak-hickory forests.

U.S. Forest Service; about 450 ha (1,100 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

George Washington National Forest: The Priest/Spy Rock area

Nelson County , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

This area of the national forest is similar to the Apple Orchard Mountain–Thunder Ridge area but is not quite as high. Lush, medium- to high-elevation forests are prevalent. On the north face of the Priest, a bouldery northern hardwood forest contains several disjunct northern species. At the summit of Spy Rock is a globally rare high-elevation outcrop barren community. Seeps and seepage swamps are scattered through the area along stream headwaters.

U.S. Forest Service; 900 ha (2,200 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Grayson Highlands State Park

Grayson County , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

Grayson Highlands State Park lies within the Southern Blue Ridge’s Balsam Mountains, Virginia’s highest-elevation landscape. In most of the park the elevation is more than 1200 m (4000 ft), and small areas on Wilburn Ridge and Haw Orchard Mountain are above 1524 m (5000 ft). Southern Appalachian vegetation and flora characteristic of cool, high sites are prevalent. Rare and noteworthy natural communities such as bogs, high-elevation outcrop barrens, shrub balds, and Red Spruce forests, as well as extensive anthropogenic meadows, occur amid the matrix of northern hardwood forest cover.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation; 1,951 ha (4,822 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Highland Wildlife Management Area

Highland County , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

This wildlife management area encompasses very diverse habitats on both calcareous and acidic soils. The southern tract is dominated by a limestone gorge cut by the Bullpasture River and flanked by mostly calcareous ridges supporting a variety of forest communities. The northern tract, on Jack Mountain, reaches an elevation of 1329 m (4360 ft) at Sounding Knob, where a disjunct stand of Red Spruce forest and high-elevation sandstone boulder fields occur.

U.S. Forest Service; 11,574 ha (28,601 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Jefferson National Forest: Dismal Creek area

Bland, Giles counties , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

The Dismal Creek valley is a popular recreation area easily accessible by a Forest Service road. Much of the area is underlain by sandstone and forested with acidic cove and oak forests typical of southwestern Virginia. Nestled within these forests, however, are small patches of several rare natural communities, including calcareous fens, seepage swamps, and Northern White-cedar slope forests influenced by calcareous soils and groundwater in local interbeds of limestone. A sizeable number of rare and unusual plants are found here.

U.S. Forest Service; about 1,000 ha (2,500 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Jefferson National Forest: Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain

Grayson, Smyth, and Washington counties , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

Mount Rogers and Whitetop are adjacent peaks of the Balsam Mountains and contain Virginia’s only substantial landscape above 1524 m (5000 ft) elevation. Outstanding examples of high-elevation Southern Appalachian habitats, vegetation, and flora abound and offer extensive opportunities for exploration and study, even by skilled botanists. Mount Rogers, which reaches 1746 m (5729 ft), supports Virginia’s only occurrence of Red Spruce–Fraser Fir forest on and around its summit, while Whitetop harbors our only example of a Southern Appalachian grassy bald. A medium- to old-age northern hardwood forest occupies most of the slopes, with smaller inclusions of high-elevation cove forests, seeps, and other specialty communities. This area contains a large number of plants listed as rare for Virginia, many of which reach or approach their northern range limit here.

U.S. Forest Service; about 7,700 ha (19,000 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Jefferson National Forest: Potts Mountain

Craig and Alleghany counties , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

Potts Mountain is a 23-km (14-mi) medium-elevation ridge in the central Ridge and Valley region northwest of Roanoke. It is notable for the very extensive and species rich, montane oak-hickory forests that cover its crest and southeastern flank. On the mountain’s northwest flank are sandstone outcrops, cliffs, and extensive boulder-field woodlands. Toward the northeastern end of the ridge is Potts Pond, one of Virginia’s most pristine and floristically significant natural ponds. To the southwest, at the head of Cove Branch, are bogs and beaver wetlands with many unusual wetland plants.

U.S. Forest Service; about 1,500 ha (3,700 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Jefferson National Forest: Raven Cliff–Collins Cove area

Wythe County , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

Forest Service land stretching from the Raven Cliff Recreation Area to the Collins Cove Horse Camp is an exceptionally rich and varied area in which limestone, sandstone, and shale habitats occur near one another. In addition to many of the common Southern Appalachian forest communities, the site contains a shale barren, a Carolina Hemlock forest, and extensive riparian habitats along Cripple Creek. The lower part of Collins Cove is underlain by limestone and contains a complex of luxuriantly vegetated sinkholes, some of them 200 m (600 ft) long and 30 m (100 ft) deep. This is an outstanding area in which to see calcium-loving flora and limestone forests of both moist and dry habitats.

U.S. Forest Service; about 530 ha (1,300 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Jefferson National Forest: Staunton Creek/Sulphur Spring area

Scott County , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

This site, located near the boundary between the Cumberland Mountains and Ridge and Valley, contains a small stream gorge and flanking ridges supporting very rich and diverse limestone habitats and flora.

U.S. Forest Service; about 200 ha (500 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Jefferson National Forest: Stone Mountain/High Knob area

Wise County , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

The High Knob area of Stone Mountain south of Norton is one of the higher sites in the Cumberland Mountains, reaching elevations of more than 1280 m (4200 ft) and containing a good representation of medium- to high-elevation habitats and flora. Small pockets of northern hardwood forest and Northern Red Oak forest occur here, among more extensive stands of montane oak and oak-hickory forest and rich cove forest.

U.S. Forest Service; about 350 ha (865 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Natural Tunnel State Park

Scott County , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

Natural Tunnel State Park features a limestone gorge with a good range of calciphilic habitats and flora. Natural communities and habitats that are readily accessible along park trails include rich cove forests, dry-mesic calcareous forests, dry calcareous woodlands, and cliffs. The most spectacular cliffs are in the vicinity of Natural Tunnel itself, formed by the breaching of a limestone ridge by Stock Creek.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation; 368 ha (909 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

New River Trail State Park

Carroll, Grayson, Pulaski, and Wythe counties , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

The New River Trail is a converted railroad bed that follows the New River for about 63 km (39 mi) from its passage through the Blue Ridge well into the Ridge and Valley. The trail passes through diverse upland, riparian, and disturbed habitats, offering opportunities for observing a correspondingly wide range of flora. It is a fine way to experience the transition of landforms, vegetation, and flora from the Blue Ridge to the Ridge and Valley. Much of the Ridge and Valley section is dominated by limestone and dolomite habitats, from rich cove forests to dry cliffs. Much of the Southern Blue Ridge section has a gorge-like character and a diversity of acidic and basic metamorphic rocks, producing dramatic transitions of vegetation and flora from one slope to the next. Although the river has been impounded, some remnant floodplain forests and flood-scoured rocky riparian habitats are found, particularly at the southern and northern ends of the area.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation; 561 ha (1,387 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Pinnacle State Natural Area Preserve

Russell County , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

This natural area preserve has more than 4 km (2.5 mi) of frontage on the Clinch River and a deep, winding gorge cut by Big Cedar Creek. Much of the site is underlain by dolomite and supports a calciphilic flora of exceptional species richness. The topographic complexity of the area is dramatic, and nearly the full range of Southern Appalachian calciphilic natural communities, from rich floodplains and breathtakingly lush cove forests to sparse vegetation on sheer pinnacle-like cliffs of dolomite, is present.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation; 288 ha (712 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Shenandoah National Park: Hawksbill–Crescent Rocks area

Madison and Page counties , Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

Hawksbill and the adjacent Crescent Rocks constitute one of Shenandoah National Park’s highest-elevation landscapes, reaching 1237 m (4060 ft) at the Hawksbill summit. At this latitude in northern Virginia, climatic conditions are equivalent to those of much higher elevations in the southern part of the state. Outstanding features of this site include a large stand of very bouldery, old-age northern hardwood forest on the north flank of the ridge; a globally rare high-elevation boulder-field woodland; and high-elevation metabasalt outcrop barrens and lichen-dominated boulder-field communities that are apparently endemic to this region. Plants of northern and high-elevation affinities, including a number of northern disjuncts and species listed as rare in Virginia, are prevalent.

National Park Service; about 850 ha (2,100 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Bull Run Mountain State Natural Area Preserve

Fauquier and Prince William counties , Virginia, Piedmont. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

Bull Run Mountain is a western Piedmont monadnock with primarily acidophilic vegetation and flora. The portion managed as a state natural area preserve contains a trail system providing access to a range of mature, mesic to dry forest communities, seeps and seepage swamps, and large quartzite cliffs and boulder fields. The vegetation and flora of Bull Run Mountain have more affinities with those of the main Blue Ridge, located some 32 km (20 mi) to the west, than to those of the surrounding Piedmont.

Virginia Outdoors Foundation; 1,006 ha (2,486 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Cumberland State Forest

Cumberland and Buckingham counties , Virginia, Piedmont. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

Situated in the central Virginia Piedmont just south of the James River, the Cumberland State Forest is underlain by intermediate to basic metamorphic and intrusive igneous rocks. Much of the land is devoted to production of Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda) and hardwood timber, but good examples of mature acidic and basic oak-hickory forest, mesic mixed hardwood forest, and basic mesic forest can be found throughout the area. The Turkey Ridge Natural Area, established here in the 1970s, contains an outstanding 23-acre old-age stand of Piedmont hardpan forest, with some trees more than 200 years old. Excellent examples of several floodplain forest and swamp communities can be found along the Willis River and other streams.

Virginia Department of Forestry; 6,569 ha (16,233 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Difficult Creek State Natural Area Preserve

Halifax County , Virginia, Piedmont. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

This state natural area preserve is located on basic hardpan soils weathered from Virgilina Greenstone. It is an excellent site at which to observe the herbaceous flora characteristic of basic soils in the southern Virginia Piedmont. Before it was a preserve, much of the area had been clearcut and converted to Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda) plantation, but many rare and unusual plants had found refuge in a powerline right-of-way that crosses the area. It is gradually being restored, with prescribed fire, to an open woodland condition and now contains a dense and continuous display of native wildflowers and grasses from spring through fall.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation; 331 ha (819 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Elklick Woodland State Natural Area Preserve

Fairfax County , Virginia, Piedmont. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

In the northern Virginia Triassic Basin, large diabase dikes once supported extensive, species-rich oak-hickory forests adapted to alternately wet and dry, shrink-swell, montmorillonite soils. Most of these hardpan forests have been destroyed by development or degraded by repeated clearcutting, but a relatively large and mature stand has been preserved at this site, which is owned and managed by the Fairfax County Park Authority. The herbaceous flora features a species-rich assemblage of drought-tolerant, nutrient-loving grasses and forbs.

Fairfax County; 644 ha (1,592 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Fairystone State Park and Philpott Lake

Franklin and Patrick counties, Virginia, Piedmont. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

Fairystone State Park and the adjacent U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land around Philpott Lake are located just east of the Blue Ridge in the foothills of the southwestern Virginia Piedmont. Although typical southern Piedmont vegetation and flora are present, the area also has many montane affinities marked by the intrusion of Southern Appalachian flora. Most of the area is underlain by acidic rocks, has strongly acidophilic flora, and supports community types such as oak/heath forests and acidic cove forests. However, Stuarts Knob, a prominent ridge within the state park, is a mafic monadnock that supports basic-soil plants and vegetation of a strikingly different character. Other mafic outcrops with woodland/barren vegetation and plants occur on steep bluffs along the Philpott Reservoir and are best reached by boat.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation AND U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; 4,067 ha (10,050 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Kerr Reservoir: Bluestone Wildlife Management Area

Mecklenburg County , Virginia, Piedmont. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

This wildlife management area, located on stream-dissected slopes along the north side of the John H. Kerr Reservoir (Roanoke River), supports a good range of mature, southern Piedmont upland forests growing on intermediate to basic soils weathered from granitic rocks. An outstanding feature is a series of unusual dry, basic hardpan woodlands growing on south-facing “noses” along the river and containing a number of species more characteristic of western Virginia limestone habitats.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; 279 ha (689 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Kerr Reservoir: Hogan Creek Wildlife Management Area

Charlotte County , Virginia, Piedmont. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

Another wildlife management area within the lands of the John H. Kerr Reservoir, the Hogan Creek area comprises a flatwoods underlain by gabbro. Pronounced hardpan subsoils that impede drainage have developed here, resulting in the formation of several upland depression swamps. Except for several wildlife clearings, most of the area supports relatively mature stands of Piedmont hardpan forest and (in better drained soils) basic oak-hickory forest. The adjacent Staunton View Recreation Area provides access to the reservoir shore, which late in the season typically has extensive sand, gravel, and mud flats colonized by a notable diversity of draw-down plants.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; 213 ha (526 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Manassas National Battlefield Park

Prince William County , Virginia, Piedmont. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

Manassas National Battlefield Park has become an oasis in the highly developed northern Virginia landscape. Here, a wide range of flora characteristic of the northern Virginia Triassic Basin forests, fields, clearings, and floodplains can still be seen. Much of the park is underlain by siltstone, with several large diabase dikes also present. Natural communities here include acidic and basic oak-hickory forests, upland depression swamps, floodplain forests, and alluvial swamps. Extensive fields in the park support many of the native and introduced grasses and weeds found in the region.

National Park Service; 2,038 ha (5,037 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Potomac Gorge: Riverbend Park, Great Falls Park, Scotts Run Nature Preserve, and Turkey Run Park

Fairfax County , Virginia, Piedmont. Submitted by Gary Fleming, Virginia Natural Heritage Ecologist, retired, Used with permission of Flora of Virginia Project

The valley formed by the 24-km (15 mi) reach of the Potomac River west of Washington, D.C., contains one of the most diverse floras and assemblages of plant communities in the mid-Atlantic Piedmont. Over time, the Potomac River has served as a major corridor for the migration of plants, and the gorge now contains numerous populations of rare and disjunct species characteristic of other regions. The river is unimpeded by high dams and impoundments and, its flooding regime thus intact, has scoured the massive bedrock around Great Falls into a series of terraces unique to Atlantic-slope rivers. Because of its geological and topographic diversity, the site contains nearly the full range of acidic and basic, terrestrial and palustrine Piedmont vegetation, including several rare riparian communities associated with frequently floodscoured outcrops and depositional bars. The Virginia portion of the Potomac Gorge is best reached in Riverbend Park, Great Falls Park, Scotts Run Nature Preserve, or Turkey Run Park. Scotts Run and Turkey Run contain extensive examples of mature, basic mesic forests growing on north-facing bluffs, while Great Falls and Riverbend contain the most extensive examples of riparian vegetation.

National Park Service AND Fairfax County Park Authority; 932 ha (2,302 acres)

© Gary P. Fleming

Brush Creek Falls

Mercer County, West Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by John Burkhart, West Virginia Natural Heritage Botanist

Brush Creek Preserve and Falls is an excellent place to observe a variety of rare and distinctive flora in a convenient and accessible place. From the parking area, a visitor can walk down the trail along Brush Creek towards the Bluestone River. Along the way, one can encounter Gorge Goldenrod (Solidago faucibus), Canby’s Mountain-lover (Paxistima canbyi), and Canada Yew (Taxus canadensis). As one walks downstream along Brush Creek, the forest changes from typical mixed-deciduous forest to calcareous glades. As the trail reaches the Bluestone River, limestone cliffs are present which host a large population of American Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis). A remarkable waterfall can be seen at the trail’s end on White Oak Creek and riverscour boulder prairies can be observed along the Bluestone River.

The Nature Conservancy; 50 ha (124 acres)

© John Burkhart

Canaan Valley State Park

Tucker County , West Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by John Burkhart, West Virginia Natural Heritage Botanist

This state park is an excellent area to sample the diverse flora and ecosystems of the High Allegheny Region. Situated in and above Canaan Valley, the largest high-elevation wetland and valley complex east of the Mississippi, the area hosts a variety of wetlands, Red Spruce (Picea rubens) forests, scattered Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea), and grass and heath balds. In addition to its high elevation, topographic relief, and variety of moisture conditions, the proximity of acidic, sandstone-derived substrates to basic, limestone-derived substrates contributes to the high diversity of flora and vegetation in the area.

West Virginia Division of Natural Resources; 2,434 ha (6,014 acres)

© Brian Streets

Chief Logan State Park

Logan County, West Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by John Burkhart, West Virginia Natural Heritage Botanist

Chief Logan State Park features a landscape characteristic of the rugged low hills of the Cumberland Mountains of southern and central West Virginia. From streams to steep forested slopes and boulder-capped hilltops, the flora is representative of this region, with a well-developed spring ephemeral wildflower display, rich forests on the lower and more sheltered slopes, and oak-hickory-heath forests on drier aspects and ridgetops. A visitor can see some of the few remaining stands of Giant Cane (Arundinaria gigantea) in the state, as well as the rare mint, Gyandotte Beauty (Synandra hispidula).

West Virginia Division of Natural Resources; 1,614 ha (3,988 acres)

© Brian Streets

Cranesville Swamp

Preston County, WV and Garrett County, MD, West Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by John Burkhart, West Virginia Natural Heritage Botanist

Cranesville Swamp, which straddles the border of West Virginia and Maryland provides a great place to observe peat bogs and forested swamps that support Red Spruce (Picea rubens), Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), and one of the southernmost populations of Eastern Larch (Larix laricina). Because the area of the Swamp is lower than the surrounding areas it forms a ‘frost pocket’ due to cold-air pooling, making the area amenable to plants from more northerly climes. Boardwalks make access to the bogs and swamps straightforward, from which a wide variety of mosses, ferns, sedges, herbs, and shrubs can be seen.

The Nature Conservancy; 718 ha (1,774 acres)

© Brian Streets

George Washington & Jefferson National Forest: Shenandoah Wildlife Management Area

Pendleton County, West Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by John Burkhart, West Virginia Natural Heritage Botanist

Shenandoah WMA lies within and occupies the mountainous border-region between West Virginia and Virginia. Westside Road, which runs roughly North/South from US Route 33 to Ft. Seybert, provides excellent roadside botanizing opportunities. Late summer/early fall is a great time to make this drive, as a variety of aster species can be seen including sunflowers (Helianthus spp.), goldenrods (Solidago ssp.), and blazing stars (Liatris spp.).

US Forest Service; 20,533 ha (50,378 acres)

© John Burkhart

Kanawha State Forest

Kanawha County, West Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by John Burkhart, West Virginia Natural Heritage Botanist

In close proximity to the state capital of Charleston, Kanahwa State Forest is well-known and beloved for the diversity and quantity of its flora and fauna. Cove forests, which include old-growth stands in the eastern watersheds of the forests - consist of white, northern red, and chestnut oaks as well tulip, black gum, beech, multiple species of hickory, and multiple pine species. These rich forests have abundant spring ephemeral wildflower displays. The boulders and small cliffs of the forest are home to multiple common and rare fern species. 60 miles of well-maintained trails and other amenities including campgrounds and a Nature Center make Kanawha State Forest easily accessible to a wide audience.

West Virginia Division of Natural Resources; 3763 ha (9,300 acres)

© John Burkhart

McClintic Wildlife Management Area

Mason County, West Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by John Burkhart, West Virginia Natural Heritage Botanist

McClintic WMA hosts a variety of wetlands characteristic of the large river floodplains of the Ohio River. Natural and man-made ponds and wetlands host a variety of interesting sedges, rushes, and aquatic plants, and a diverse uplands flora can be found in the surrounding low hills. In addition to natural history attractions, the area in and around McClintic was the location of the original ‘Mothman’ sightings!

West Virginia Division of Natural Resources AND U.S. Forest Service; 1,479 ha (3,655 acres)

© WV DNR

Monongahela National Forest: Fernow Experimental Forest

Tucker County, West Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by John Burkhart, West Virginia Natural Heritage Botanist

The Fernow is a research forest that supports long-term silvicultural and watershed experiments: many experiments have been running continuously since the 1950’s. The area is characterized by high-quality mixed deciduous forests and a rich herbaceous layer. An important geological gradient in the higher mountains of West Virginia occurs across limestone derived vs. sandstone-derived soils, and this gradient is readily apparent at the Fernow. The sandstone-derived soils are more acidic and are home to distinctive groups of plants such as heaths. The limestone-derived soils are more basic and generally more fertile. These calcium-rich, basic soils are home to a diverse spring ephemeral flora, numerous species of shrubs, vigorous tree growth, and arguably, the world’s most extensive wood nettle thickets!

US Forest Service; 1,902 ha, (4,700 acres)

© Jim Vanderhorst

New River Gorge National Park

Fayette and Summers County, West Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by John Burkhart, West Virginia Natural Heritage Botanist

The New River Gorge hosts an incredible variety of flora, including globally rare clifftop and rimrock communities, forested wetlands and seeps, small stream riparian areas, talus and boulder slopes, and river scour prairies and aquatic vegetation. The New River serves as a major biogeographic corridor between Southern and Central Appalachia, and many species with more southern affinities can be found in the Park such as Pink Laurel (Rhododendron catawbiense), Fringe-tree (Chionanthus virginicus), and Common Silverbell (Halesia tetraptera). Sandstone Falls, a set of large waterfalls and shallows stretching the width of the New River near Hinton, WV has scour prairies and open woodlands on the river islands. The Park is also rich in human and cultural history, including the abandoned coal mining towns of Kaymoor and Nuttalburg and an engineering marvel- the New River Gorge Bridge- which spans the gorge and is the Western Hemisphere’s longest single-span arch bridge.

National Park Service; 29,464 ha (72,808 acres)

© Brian Streets

WVU Core Arboretum

Monongalia County, West Virginia, Mountains. Submitted by John Burkhart, West Virginia Natural Heritage Botanist

WVU Core Arboretum was established in 1948 and is located on a 91-acre tract of hillside and bottomland near the WVU Coliseum, between Monongahela Boulevard and the Monongahela River. The Arboretum has 3 miles of foot trails, lawns and gardens with more than 150 species of planted trees and shrubs, old growth temperate deciduous forest on hillside and floodplain sites, interpretive signs, trailside benches, a small woodland amphitheater, and an information kiosk. The name of the Arboretum honors its founder and influential West Virginia botanist Earl L. Core, and many of the trails are named for other WV botanists. The Core Arboretum is an exceptional place to observe spring ephemeral wildflowers, with guided wildflower walks in the spring being a longstanding tradition. The Mountaineer Audubon Society also regularly leads bird walks, particularly in the spring. During the summer months, the Arboretum hosts the ‘Nature Connection’ series on most Tuesdays in which regional researchers present on a variety of topics. During the fall, there is a PawPaw Festival that includes plant sales, tastings, and activities.

West Virginia University; 37 ha (91 acres)

© John Burkhart
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